Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 1546–1558 | Cite as

Age-related variations of needles and twigs in nutrient, nonstructural carbon and isotope composition along altitudinal gradients

  • Duo-teng Tang
  • Guo-quan Peng
  • Sheng ZhangEmail author


The biochemical and physiological properties of alpine woody plants responding to elevation are associated with needles and twigs age. However, the interactions with elevation were not well studied. In this study, we investigated age-related (current, one-year and two-year old) functional traits of Abies faxoniana in needles and twigs with elevation (2500 m, 2750 m, 3000 m, 3250 m, and 3500 m a.s.l) at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The macro-elements (C, N, P, K, Ca, and Mg), nonstructural carbons (soluble sugar, sucrose, and starch) and isotope composition (δ13C) were measured in needles and twigs of adult A. faxoniana trees (breast height diameter about 30 cm). There were significant age, elevation and their interaction effects on these traits (except for δ13C). Compared with two-year-old needles and twigs, the current and one-year-old tissues possessed higher concentrations of P and K, lower Ca concentrations, as well as a lower δ13C values and C: P and N: P ratios in needles. The current-year twigs generally had higher sucrose concentration and sucrose: starch ratio than the old ones. This study suggested that more nutrients were invested to young needles and twigs to cope with elevation for A. faxoniana than the old ones.


Fir Elevation Nutrient Age Needle and twig Sub-alpine 


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This work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA20020401) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NO. 31770650).

Supplementary material

11629_2018_5344_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (313 kb)
Age-related variations of needles and twigs in nutrient, nonstructural carbon and isotope composition along altitudinal gradients


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life ScienceSichuan UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.College of Chemistry and Life SciencesZhejiang Normal UniversityJinhuaChina

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