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Divergent Adaptation Strategies of Vascular Facultative Epiphytes to Bark and Soil Habitats: Insights from Stoichiometry

First Author: Zhang TT
Abstract: Understanding the stoichiometric traits of plants is critical for studying their ecological adaptation strategies. Facultative epiphytes (which can also live on the ground) are an important component of epiphytic flora of montane forest ecosystems. However, a key gap persists in our understanding how facultative epiphytes can adapt different nutritional conditions of ground and canopy habitats? To study adaptive strategies of facultative epiphytes and the characteristics of the content and stoichiometric homeostasis of C, N, and P elements, we conducted a field experiment and a greenhouse N and P additions cultivation experiment. We found that epiphytic individuals of facultative epiphytes showed lower C:N and C:P ratios, higher variation in elemental composition, and more pronounced N limitation than terrestrial individuals. Moreover, facultative epiphytes showed strong control over the elemental composition of leaves, and their stoichiometric homeostasis of leaves and stems were stronger than roots. Furthermore, the homeostasis of facultative epiphytes decreased in the order N > P. Our results indicated that epiphytic and terrestrial individuals of facultative epiphytes have difference in nutrient limitation, and they use plastic strategies in different habitats. Epiphytic individuals survive in the intermittent habitat through luxury consumption of nutrient while terrestrial individuals were relatively conservative nutrient users. Furthermore, our results implied that facultative epiphytes maintain stable metabolic leaf activity via variable element concentrations of roots to adapt to highly heterogeneous forest habitats.
Contact the author: Liu WY
Page Number: 16
Issue: 1
Impact Factor: 2.221
Authors units:
PubYear: Dec 2020
Volume: 21
Publication Name: Forests
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