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Species-specific and environment-sensitive functional traits in six steppe plant species with different roles in community

Shinekhuu Tumurjav https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9167-1368; Larissa Ivanova https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2363-9619; Yurii Rupyshev https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2305-7889; Svetlana Migalina https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0236-1972; Sergey Bazha https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2305-7889; Leonid Ivanov https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6900-5086

3 June 2024 · volume 46 · (issue 6) · pp. 147–163 · PDF [full text]

Abstract: Plant functional traits are often considered as indicators of plant-environment relationship; however, some plant features can be highly taxonomic-specific. The study of intraspecific trait variation is essential to understand what functional traits are influenced by the phylogeny and what traits are more dependent on environment. We studied six common steppe plant species in two natural vegetation plots near lake Baikal in Southern Siberia different in climate aridity and grazing degree: site 1 – native true grass steppe under lower climate aridity, site 2 – high disturbed sagebrush steppe under higher aridity. Plant functional traits showed different relevance to species and environment. Plant height, leaf thickness (LT), mesophyll cell volume (Vcell), and the chloroplast number per cell had the greatest contribution to differences between species and varied slightly within a species. Photosynthesis (Amax) and transpiration (E) rates, chlorophyll content, mesophyll surface area per leaf area unit (Ames/A) were more dependent on environment than on species. Amax and E decreased in all studied species in more adverse conditions of site 2, however plants differed in mechanisms of these changes. In Stipa krylovii, Artemisia frigida and Potentilla acaulis, most abundant in true steppe (site 1) mesophyll cell sizes, cell and chloroplast number per leaf area decreased in site 2. Other species, Artemisia scoparia, Potentilla bifurca and Allium anisopodium which were more abundant in disturbed steppe (site 2), had larger cells and showed an increase in cell and chloroplast number per leaf area in site 2 and decrease in the photosynthetic capacity of a chloroplast. We concluded that the leaf thickness and cell size belong to species-specific features, whereas Amax, pigment content and integral mesophyll traits as Ames/A are more indicative for plant-environment relationships and their response to growth conditions depend on the ecological strategy of a species.

Keywords: cell volume, chlorophyll content, leaf structure, mesophyll, photosynthesis, plant height

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Tumurjav Sh., Ivanova L., Rupyshev Yu, Migalina S., Bazha S., Ivanov L. 2024 Species-specific and environment-sensitive functional traits in six steppe plant species with different roles in community. Historia naturalis bulgarica 46: 147–163.

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