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Functionally dissimilar neighbors improve tree water use efficiency through increases in leaf phosphorus concentration

Citation

Huang, Zhiqun et al. (2022), Functionally dissimilar neighbors improve tree water use efficiency through increases in leaf phosphorus concentration, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.73n5tb2z5

Abstract

Water use efficiency (WUE) is central to the global cycles of water and carbon. However, whether increasing tree diversity in plantation can increase WUE remain poorly understood. Here, we conduct a forest biodiversity experiment with 32 tree species spread in 14 ha in subtropical China to assess the effects of neighboring tree diversity on foliar WUE of Cunninghamia lanceolata, a widespread tree plantation species in China. We measure foliar δ13C as the proxies of changes in intrinsic WUE. Folia P concentrations of focal trees increase with trait dissimilarities between focal trees and neighbors, and the increased foliar P concentrations improve foliar WUE of focal trees. This neighborhood complementarity effect on WUE is stronger under more shaded neighborhood. However, neighborhood biodiversity did not significantly affect foliar δ18O, a surrogate for stomatal conductance. These findings suggest that tree biodiversity increases WUE through the complementary usages of soil P between neighboring tree species.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31930077