Sand dune height increases water use efficiency at the expense of growth and leaf area in Mongolian pine growing in Hulunbeier steppe, Inner Mongolia, China

Chan Beom Kim, Yong Suk Kim, Hyung Tae Choi, Jeonghwan Kim, Seongjun Kim, Sangsub Cha, Guang Lei Gao, Yan Feng Bao, Yowhan Son, Jino Kwon, Ki Hyung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The Mongolian pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) is one of the most common tree species in semiarid and arid areas of China, especially in the sand dunes of the Hulunbeier steppe. This study addresses the morphological and physiological characteristics of the Mongolian pine according to sand dune height. Five sites were chosen with various sand dune heights (P1-P5). Nine years after planting, tree growth, leaf area, leaf mass per leaf unit area (LMA), diameter at breast height (DBH), tree height, diameter at root collar (DRC), longest shoot length, carbon isotope composition, and intrinsic water use efficiency (iWUE) were measured to explore the responses of Mongolian pine trees to drought. DBH, tree height, DRC, leaf area, leaf length, and longest shoot length significantly decreased with greater sand dune height (p < 0.05). However, the carbon isotope actually increased with dune height (p < 0.05). Conversely, the iWUE of current-year pine needles was significantly higher at measurement points P3 (132.29 μmol CO2 mol -1 H2O), P4 (132.96 μmol CO2 mol -1 H2O), and P5 (125.34 μmol CO2 mol -1 H2O) than at the lower points P1 (95.18 ± 9.87 μmol CO2 mol -1 H2O) and P2 (103.10 ± 11.12 μmol CO2 mol -1 H2O). Greater sand dune height increases the distance to groundwater, which in this study led to an increase in iWUE in the Mongolian pines, thus these trees appear to adapt to increased sand dune height by increasing their iWUE and decreasing their leaf area. However, prolonged periods characterized by such adaptations can lead to tree death. We expect these findings to be useful when selecting plantation sites for Mongolian pines in semiarid and arid climates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number558
JournalForests
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Carbon isotope composition
  • Grassland
  • Sand dune
  • Soil moisture
  • Water use efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry

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