The relationships among resorption, leaf nutrient status, and soil nutrient availability remain unresolved. Moreover, the dynamics of resorption in leaf and soil nutrients and stoichiometry during development of Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) stands have rarely been studied. This study quantified the resorption efficiencies of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), and their potential correlations with stoichiometric ratios in leaf and soil as Chinese fir stands develop, and also evaluated the nutritional control on resorption in the stands based on the “relative resorption hypothesis.”
Materials and methods
Leaf and soil samples were collected from Chinese fir stands at different developmental stages (young, mature, and overmature) at the Xinkou National Forest in southern China. Samples of green leaves were collected from different portions of the crown from representative trees in different seasons. Samples of senesced leaves were collected from litter traps placed under the representative trees every month. Soils were sampled at three depths (0–20, 20–40, and 40–60 cm). Samples of green and senesced leaves were analyzed to determine nutrient (N, P, and K) concentrations, stoichiometric ratios, and resorption efficiencies. Soil samples were also analyzed for nutrient concentrations (organic matter, N, P, and K) and stoichiometric ratios.
Results and discussion
P (75 %) and K (77 %) resorption efficiencies were higher than N resorption efficiency (57 %) but did not vary among the stands. However, K resorption efficiency decreased from the young to the overmature stage. N and P resorption efficiencies were influenced by season, and leaf nutrient stoichiometric ratios varied with stand stage. Green-leaf N and P concentrations, and senesced-leaf K concentration increased with stand developmental stage. The concentrations of N, P, and K decreased with soil depth, and there was no interaction effect of stand stage and soil depth on stoichiometric ratios of the soil nutrients. The correlation results showed that nutrient resorption efficiencies were mostly affected by leaf nutrient status, but seldom by soil nutrient concentration and stoichiometry.
The results suggest Chinese fir might preferentially resorb P and K from senescing leaves prior to abscission. Based on the relative resorption hypothesis the Chinese fir plantations are more limited by P and that resorption may be an important mechanism to conserve nutrients in these stands in order to reduce dependence on soil nutrient pools. There is an indication that stand development affects these processes; however, the resorption process and internal mechanism need to be further investigated for the long term.