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Carbon isotope composition (δ13C) of C3 plants and water use efficiency in China

Author(s): REN Shu-Jie | YU Gui-Rui

Journal: Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology
ISSN 1005-264X

Volume: 35;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 119;
Date: 2011;

Keywords: C3 plant | life-form | precipitation | stable isotope | water use efficiency

Aims There have been many studies of carbon isotope composition (δ13C) of C3 plants in China, and δ13C has been widely used as an index of water use efficiency (WUE); however, most studies focused on single sites or small regions. Therefore, our objective was to study the spatial pattern of δ13C, the relationships between δ13C andclimate factors and whether δ13C can represent WUE in large regions.Methods We obtained leaf δ13C for 478 C3 species from 187 sites in China based on the literature.Important findings The range of δ13C was from –33.50‰ to –22.00‰, and the mean was –(27.10‰ ± 1.70)‰. There were significant differences among δ13C of grasses, shrubs and trees, with grasses having the highest value and trees the lowest. The result was different from studies in single sites and small regions. For different phylogenic plants, δ13C of seed plants was significantly higher than ferns, the difference between gymnosperms and angiosperms was not statistically significant and monocotyledons had significantly higher values than dicotyledons. Leaf δ13C had irregular variation with increasing longitude, but significantly increased with increasing latitude. Leaf δ13C significantly increased with mean annual temperature and decreasing mean annual precipitation. The relationship between δ13C and precipitation was similar to that of WUE and precipitation, so we conclude that δ13C of C3 plants can be used as an index of WUE in large regions as well as in single sites or small regions.

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