Double Effects of Age and Environment on Resource Allocation Trade-offs of Salix psammophila in Different Microtopographic Habitats of a Sand Dune

  • Minghan Yu
  • Guodong DingEmail author
  • Guanglei Gao
  • Zhonghua Liu
  • Chunyuan Wang


Adjustments to the allocation of aboveground biomass allocation are an important component of the adaptive strategies of plant growth. Plants can modify their biomass allocation patterns to adapt to various environmental conditions. Sandy areas vary widely in topography, generating a diversity of microenvironments. However, knowledge about biomass allocation patterns of shrubs in different microtopographic areas in sandy habitats remains limited. Moreover, most studies have not considered the effect of age on plant biomass allocation responses to habitat differences. In August 2017, we measured the age, height, ground-level diameter, and leaf and stem matter of Salix psammophila, a species that overwhelmingly dominates a wide range of habitats in China. Biomass allocation patterns (leaf vs. stem biomass, biomass vs. diameter) were compared between two sandy vegetation environments in an area of the Mu Us Sandy Land. The results indicated that the rate of biomass accumulation decreased with age and, as shoots aged, they tended to allocate more biomass to stems, which provide support and transport functions, than to leaves (assimilatory organs). Soil moisture was the main environmental factor influencing the allocation strategy of S. psammophila. Favorable moisture habitats increased the overall biomass accumulation rate by promoting the allocation of biomass to leaf tissue. Habitat and age had an interactive effect on biomass accumulation and allocation, and larger plants were more likely to suffer from resource limitation. This study contributes to a better understanding of the life-history strategies of shrubs under frequently changing sandy conditions, which can contribute to efforts in vegetation recovery management.


Adaptive strategy Aging Allometric pattern Biomass allocation Habitat 



The English in this document has been checked by at least two professional editors, both native speakers of English. For a certificate, please see:

Author Contributions

MHY, GDD, and GLG conceived and designed the study. GDD contributed materials and tools. MHY, CYW, and ZHL performed the experiments. MHY contributed to data analysis and paper preparation. All authors contributed to manuscript revision, as well read and approved the submitted version.


This research is supported by “the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31700639),” “the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2016YFC0500905).”

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Berger U, Hildenbrandt H, Grimm V (2004) Age-related decline in forest production: modeling the effects of growth limitation, neighborhood competition and self-thinning. J Ecol 92:846–853CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown JF (1997) Effects of experimental burial on survival, growth, and resource allocation of three species of dune plants. J Ecol 85:151–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Campioli M, Schmidt NM, Albert KR, Leblans N, Ro-Poulsen H, Michelsen A (2013) Does warming affect growth rate and biomass production of shrubs in the High Arctic? Plant Ecol 214:1049–1058CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Coleman JS, McConnaughay KDM, Ackerly DD (1994) Interpreting phenotypic variation in plants. Trends Ecol Evol 9:187–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dahlgren JP, Rizzi S, Schweingruber FH, Hellmann L, Büntgen U (2016) Age distributions of Greenlandic dwarf shrubs support concept of negligible actuarial senescence. Ecosphere 7:10Google Scholar
  6. Enquist BJ, Niklas KJ (2002) Global allocation rules for patterns of biomass partitioning in seed plants. Science 295:1517–1520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Evans GC (1972) The quantitative analysis of plant growth. Blackwell Scientific Publications, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Givnish TJ (1988) Adaptation to sun and shade: a whole-plant perspective. Aust J Plant Physiol 15:63–92Google Scholar
  9. Gower ST, McMurtrie R, Murty D (1996) Aboveground net primary production decline with stand age: potential causes. Trends Ecol Evol 11:378–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Huang J, Zhou Y, Yin L, Wenninger J, Zhang J, Hou G, Uhlenbrook S (2015) Climatic controls on sap flow dynamics and used water sources of Salix psammophila in a semi-arid environment in northwest China. Environ Earth Sci 73:289–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Iwasa Y, Roughgarden J (1984) Shoot/root balance of plants: optimal growth of a system with many vegetative organs. Theor Popul Biol 25(1):78–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jia X, Zha T, Gong J, Wang B, Zhang Y, Wu B et al (2016) Carbon and water exchange over a temperate semi-arid shrubland during three years of contrasting precipitation and soil moisture patterns. Agric For Meteorol 228–229:120–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kiær LP, Weisbach AN, Weiner J (2013) Root and shoot competition: a meta-analysis. J Ecol 101:1298–1312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. King JS, Giardana CP, Pregitzer KS, Friend AL (2007) Biomass partitioning in red pine (Pinus resinosa) along a chronosequence in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Can J Forest Res 37:93–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lambers H, Chapin FS, Pons TL (2008) Plant physiological ecology. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li SL, Zuidema PA, Yu FH, Werger MJA, Dong M (2010) Effects of denudation and burial on growth and reproduction of Artemisia ordosica in Mu Us sandland. Ecol Res 25:655–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Liu W, Xu W, Hong J, Wan S (2010) Interannual variability of soil microbial biomass and respiration in responses to topography, annual burning and N addition a semiarid temperature steppe. Geoderma 158:259–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lusk CH, Pérezmillaqueo MM, Piper FI, Saldaña A (2011) Ontogeny, understory light interception and simulated carbon gain of juvenile rainforest evergreens differing in shade tolerance. Ann Bot 108:419–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Maun MA (1998) Adaptations of plants to burial in coastal sand dunes. Can J Bot 76:713–738Google Scholar
  20. Mori S, Brown JH (2010) Mixed-power scaling of whole-plant respiration from seedlings to giant trees. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:1447–1451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Newell SJ, Framer EJ (1978) Reproductive strategies in herbaceous plant communities during succession. Ecology 59:228–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Niklas KJ (1994) Plant allometry: the scaling of plant form and process. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  23. Pate JS, Bell TL (1999) Application of the ecosystem mimic concept to the species-rich Banksia woodlands of Western Australia. Agroforest Syst 45:303–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Poorter H, Pothmann P (1992) Growth and carbon economy of a fast-growing and a slow-growing species as dependent on ontogeny. New Phytol 120:159–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Reich P (2002) Root–shoot relations: optimality in acclimation and adaptation or the ‘‘Emperor’s new clothes’’? In: Waisel Y, Eshel A, Kafkafi U (eds) Plant roots, the hidden half, 3rd edn. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 205–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ryan MG, Waring RH (1992) Maintenance respiration and stand development in a subalpine lodgepole pine forest. Ecology 73:2100–2108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sampaio MC, Araújo TF, Scarano FR, Stuefer JF (2004) Directional growth of a clonal bromeliad species in response to spatial habitat heterogeneity. Evol Ecol 18:429–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schiel DR (1985) Growth, survival and reproduction of two species of marine algae at different diversities in natural stands. J Ecol 3:199–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schrader JA, Gardner SJ, Graves WR (2005) Resistance to water stress of Alnus maritima: intraspecific variation and comparisons to other alders. Environ Exp Bot 53:281–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. She W, Bai Y, Zhang Y, Qin S, Liu Z, Wu B (2017) Plasticity in meristem allocation as an adaptive strategy of a desert shrub under contrasting environments. Front Plant Sci 8:1933CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Su ZX, Zhong ZC (1998) Studies on the reproductive ecology of Gordonia acuminata population. II. The patterns of reproductive allocation on the biomass in the population. Acta Ecol Sin 18:379–385Google Scholar
  32. Sui Y, Cui QQ, Dong M, He WM (2011) Contrasting responses of legume versus non-legume shrubs to soil water and nutrient shortages in the Mu Us sandland. J Plant Ecol 4:268–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Suter M (2008) Reproductive allocation of care flava reacts differently to competition and resources in designed plant mixture of five species. Plant Ecol 201:481–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Suzuki S, Kudo G (2005) Resource allocation pattern under simulated environmental change and seedling establishment of alpine dwarf shrubs in a mid-latitude mountain. Phyton 45:409–414Google Scholar
  35. Thornley JHM (1972) A model to describe the partitioning of photosynthate during vegetative plant growth. Ann Botany 36:419–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tian DS, Pan QM, Simmons M, Chaolu H, Du BH, Bai YF, Wang H, Han XG (2012) Hierarchical reproductive allocation and allometry within a perennial bunchgrass after 11 years of nutrient addition. PLoS ONE 7:e42833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wang GX, Yu SL, Fang WW, Li DF, Yue M (2014) Research progress and prospects of correlation between plant community modules. Chin J Plant Ecol 33:2824–2833Google Scholar
  38. Warton DI, Wright IJ, Falster DS, Westoby M (2006) Bivariate line-fitting methods for allometry. Biol Rev 81:259–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wheeler JA, Cortés AJ, Sedlacek J, Karrenberg S, Van Kleunen M, Wipf S, Hoch G, Bossdorf O, Rixen C (2016) The snow and the willows: earlier spring snowmelt reduces performance in the low-lying alpine shrub Salix herbacea. J Ecol 104:1041–1050CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wijk MTV, Williams M, Gough L, Hobbie SE, Shaver GR (2003) Luxury consumption of soil nutrients: a possible competitive strategy in above-ground and belowground biomass allocation and root morphology for slow-growing arctic vegetation? J Ecol 91(4):664–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Xie J, Tang L, Wang Z, Xu G, Yan L (2012) Distinguishing the biomass allocation variance resulting from ontogenetic drift or acclimation to soil texture. PLoS ONE 7:e41502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Xu W, Wan S (2008) Water and plant mediated responses of soil respiration to topography, fire, and nitrogen fertilization in a semiarid grassland in north China. Soil Biol Biochem 40:679–687CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yu FH, Dong M, Krusi B (2004) Clonal integration helps Psammochloa villosa survive sand burial in an inland dune. New Phytol 162:697–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yu FH, Wang N, He WM, Chu Y, Dong M (2008) Adaptation of rhizome connections in drylands: increasing tolerance of clones to wind erosion. Ann Bot 102:571–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Minghan Yu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guodong Ding
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Guanglei Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhonghua Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chunyuan Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Yanchi Research Station, School of Soil and Water ConservationBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of State Forestry Administration on Soil and Water ConservationBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations