Author(s): Hiremath AJ
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Abstract Differences in nutrient-use efficiency have been attributed to differences in leaf habit. It has been suggested that evergreens, with their longer-lived leaves, and therefore longer nutrient retention, are more efficient than deciduous species in their use of nutrients. In tropical trees, however, leaf life span is not always a function of whole-tree deciduousness, leading to the proposal that nutrient-use efficiency is better related to leaf life span than to leaf habit. It was predicted that potential photosynthetic nutrient-use efficiency (maximum potential photosynthesis/leaf nutrient content) would decrease with increasing leaf life span, whereas cumulative photosynthetic nutrient-use efficiency (carbon assimilated over a leaf's life span/total nutrients invested in a leaf) would increase with increasing leaf life span. Potential and cumulative photosynthetic nutrient-use efficiencies (with respect to nitrogen and phosphorus) were measured for three fast-growing tropical trees: Cedrela odorata L. (Meliaceae), Cordia alliodora (R. & P.) Cham. (Boraginaceae), and Hyeronima alchorneoides Allemão (Euphorbiaceae). Mean leaf life spans of the three species varied about threefold and ranged from 50 to 176 days. The predictions were partially supported: Cedrela odorata had the shortest-lived leaves and the highest potential nitrogen-use efficiency, whereas Hyeronima alchorneoides had the longest-lived leaves and the highest cumulative nitrogen- and phosphorus-use efficiencies. Potential phosphorus-use efficiency, however, was invariant among species. It is suggested that there are potential tradeoffs between leaf characteristics that lead to high potential and cumulative nutrient-use efficiencies. High potential nutrient-use efficiency may be beneficial in high-nutrient environments, whereas high cumulative nutrient-use efficiency may be of greater benefit to species in low-nutrient environments.
This article was published in Tree Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation