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Title: Patterns of physical, chemical, and metabolic characteristics of sugar maple leaves with depth in the crown and in response to nitrogen and phosphorus addition

Few previous studies have described the patterns of leaf characteristics in response to nutrient availability and depth in the crown. Sugar maple has been studied for both sensitivity to light, as a shade-tolerant species, and sensitivity to soil nutrient availability, as a species in decline due to acid rain. To explore leaf characteristics from the top to bottom of the canopy, we collected leaves along a vertical gradient within mature sugar maple crowns in a full-factorial nitrogen (N) by phosphorus (P) addition experiment in three forest stands in central New Hampshire, USA. Thirty-two of the 44 leaf characteristics had significant relationships with depth in the crown, with the effect of depth in the crown strongest for leaf area, photosynthetic pigments and polyamines. Nitrogen addition had a strong impact on the concentration of foliar N, chlorophyll, carotenoids, alanine and glutamate. For several other elements and amino acids, N addition changed patterns with depth in the crown. Phosphorus addition increased foliar P and boron (B); it also caused a steeper increase of P and B with depth in the crown. Since most of these leaf characteristics play a direct or indirect role in photosynthesis, metabolic regulation or cell division, studies that ignore the vertical gradient may not accurately represent whole-canopy performance.

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Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Tree Physiology
Medium: X Size: p. 1118-1129
p. 1118-1129
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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