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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Plastic Responses in Growth, Morphology, and Biomass Allocation of Five Subtropical Tree Species to Different Degrees of Shading

Huang, Zhijun; Liu, Qingqing; Tigabu, Mulualem; Jin, Shaofei; Ma, Xiangqing; Liu, Bo


We investigated how different degrees of shading affected growth, morphology, and biomass allocation in seedlings from two coniferous and three broadleaved species. The experiment was conducted in a shade house over a 1-year period. Our results showed that under increasing shade, seedlings from most species exhibited lower total biomass, net assimilation rates, relative growth rates, root mass ratios, and root/shoot ratios. In contrast, the slenderness quotients, leaf area ratios, and specific leaf areas increased with increasing shade. For coniferous species, growth traits were relatively more plastic (responsive to shade) than morphology or biomass allocation traits, whereas for broadleaved species, growth and biomass allocation were the most shade-sensitive traits. When comparing coniferous versus broadleaved species, the former had a higher growth plasticity index and lower allocation plasticity than the latter. Root biomass and stem mass ratio were the most and least plastic traits in response to shading. Our results indicate that shade differentially affects coniferous and broadleaved species in terms of their growth, morphology, and biomass allocation. These findings have important implications for the establishment and maintenance of mixed-species stands.


plasticity; light adaptation; shade tolerance; morphology; shade avoidance syndrome

Published in

2022, volume: 13, number: 7, article number: 996
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Huang, Zhijun
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Liu, Qingqing
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Jin, Shaofei
Minjiang University
Ma, Xiangqing
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Liu, Bo
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University
Liu, Bo
Qufu Normal University

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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