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Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology ›› 2023, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (2): 315-323.doi: 10.13287/j.1001-9332.202301.006

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Bark characteristics of Betula platyphylla at different heights and their environmental interpretation under fire disturbance

SUN Xingyue, ZHANG Yujian, QIN Qianqian, BAI Yansong, LIU Yanhong*   

  1. Beijing Key Laboratory of Forest Resources and Ecosystem Process, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2022-08-16 Accepted:2022-10-28 Online:2023-02-15 Published:2023-08-15

Abstract: Betula platyphylla is a pioneer tree species after fire disturbance in forest communities in the Daxing'an Mountains of China. Bark, as an external structure of vascular cambium, plays an important role in protection and transport. To understand the survival strategy of B. platyphylla under fire disturbance, we analyzed the functional traits of inner and outer bark of B. platyphylla at different heights (0.3, 0.8 and 1.3 m) in natural secondary forest of the Daxing'an Mountains. We further quantified the explanation of three environmental factors (stand, topography and soil) and identified the key factors driving the changes in those traits. The results showed that the relative inner bark thickness of B. platyphylla in burned plot followed an order of 0.3 m (4.7%) > 0.8 m (3.8%) > 1.3 m (3.3%), which was 28.6%, 14.4% and 3.1% higher than that in the unburned plot (30-35 years without fire disturbance), respectively. The relative outer bark thickness and the relative total bark thickness showed similar pattern with tree height. Fire had different effects on other bark functional traits of B. platyphylla. The inner bark density of B. platyphylla in burned plot was significantly decreased by 3.8%-5.6% and water content was significantly increased by 11.0%-12.2%, compared with that in unburned plot across the three heights. However, the contents of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in inner (or outer) bark were not significantly affected by fire. Further, the mean inner bark nitrogen content at 0.3 m in burned plot (5.24 g·kg-1) was significantly higher than that at the other two heights (4.56-4.76 g·kg-1). Environmental factors explained 49.6% and 28.1% of the total variation in inner and outer bark functional traits, respectively, with the highest single explanation (18.9% or 9.9%) of soil factors. Diameter at breast height was the most important factor affecting the growth of inner and outer barks. In summary, fire affected survival strategies of B. platyphylla (e.g., increased the resource allocation to the base bark) via changing the environment factors, which would help improve their defense ability under fire disturbance.

Key words: fire disturbance, Betula platyphylla, bark, functional trait, environment