Leaf emergence, shedding, and lifespan of dominant hardwood species in Chitou, central Taiwan

Erh-Yang Lu; Chung-Han Tsai; Jia-Jun Lin; Shu-Han Yang
April 2012
Botanical Studies;2012, Vol. 53 Issue 2, p255
Academic Journal
Leaf lifespan and phenology have important implications of plant adaptation to the environment. From January of 2008 till early May of 2009, this study tracked the marked twigs at least monthly to note the emergence of new leaves and leaf shedding in 15 dominant species of a natural hardwood forest in Chitou, central Taiwan. The leaf lifespans were then estimated from the results of observations of leaf phenology. We emphasized on the comparisons between the seedlings in the shaded understory and the larger trees on the exposed ridge. Most medium and large trees have scaled buds, and most small trees and shrubs have hypsophyllary buds. The budbreak occurred from March to May for most species. Species did not have the clean-cut difference in the dates of budbreak between the understory seedlings and ridge trees. Based on the duration of leaf emergence, 4 species belong to succeeding type, 7 species flush type, and 4 species intermediate type. 6 species in flush type have scaled buds. Most of newly emerged leaves would survive through the first year, or even the second and third years in most species except for the species with short leaf lifespans. Compared with the leaf fall of canopy trees, the leaf shedding of most ridge trees peaked at the similar time, whereas the leaf shedding of most understory seedlings peaked at the later time of the year, had multiple peaks or irregular patterns. Based on the estimation of the maximum leaf lifespans, the leaves clearly lived longer in the understory species than in the ridge species. In 3 species common to both sites, the understory seedlings also had longer-lived leaves than did the ridge trees. The differences in the leaf lifespans can be interpreted by the effect of light availability as well as by the effect of developmental stages. By contrast, the leaf lifespans cannot be determined with the limited data from the observations of the species with the succeeding type of leaf emergence.


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