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Allometry rather than abiotic drivers explains biomass allocation among leaves, stems and roots of Artemisia across a large environmental gradient in China

Citation

Liu, Rong et al. (2020), Allometry rather than abiotic drivers explains biomass allocation among leaves, stems and roots of Artemisia across a large environmental gradient in China, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cjsxksn4m

Abstract

1. Biomass allocation patterns reflect the adaptive strategies of plants growing in different environments, which is a central issue in comparative plant ecology and evolution. However, the factors underpinning specific allocation patterns across organs and the existence of general rules governing allocation remain contentious. Optimal partitioning theory (OPT) states that plants can respond to resource availability by allocating relatively more biomass to the organ that captures the most limiting resources to optimize growth. In contrast, allometric partitioning theory (APT) postulates that biomass allocation among organs is a power function of plant size independently of environmental variation. As phylogenetic and growth form constraints (e.g. formation of inert heartwood in tree clades) may also affect biomass allocation, comparison among and within closely related taxa of rather similar growth form may enable a more direct testing of which of these two theories prevails.

2. To test whether OPT or APT was prevalent at wide geographic scale, we investigated biomass allocation patterns among leaves, stems and roots of 1022 plants of 63 Artemisia species (Asteraceae) collected along broad climate (annual mean temperature range -4.9 to 18.0 °C, annual mean precipitation range 193 to 1668 mm) and soil gradients (soil carbon content range 1.6 to 15.4 kg C m-2) in central and eastern China.

3. There were strong allometric relationships among leaf mass (ML), stem mass (MS) and root mass (MR) at both inter- and intraspecific level. Moreover, the interspecific and intraspecific patterns were not different from general patterns for pooled plants, i.e. ML/MR and ML/MS, but not MS/MR, generally decreased with plant size. However, the three organ mass ratios were not responsive to broad climatic or soil gradients after the effect of plant size was removed.

4. Synthesis. Our results generally support APT instead of OPT, suggesting that Artemisia plants have evolved an allometric strategy rather than relying on adjustment of allocation among organs to adapt to the broadly varying environments at the regional scale. For follow-up research, we hypothesize that the strong allometric constraints on biomass allocation should depend on strong physiological adaptive responses of the different organs of Artemisia to environmental gradients.

Methods

A total of 1022 plants of 63 Artemisia species were collected from 81 sites of natural vegetation across China. Plants were separated into leaf, root and stem, then oven-dried at 65 °C for a minimum of 48 h.

Usage Notes

This dataset contains (1) biomass for leaves, stems and roots of Artemisia; (2) climate and soil data for 81 sampling sites; (3) R code for data analyses.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31770514

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31861143024