13C natural abundance in plant communities along a rainfall gradient: A biological integrator of water availability

Stewart, G. R., Turnbull, M. H., Schmidt, S. and Erskine, P. D. (1995) 13C natural abundance in plant communities along a rainfall gradient: A biological integrator of water availability. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology, 22 1: 51-55. doi:10.1071/PP9950051


Author Stewart, G. R.
Turnbull, M. H.
Schmidt, S.
Erskine, P. D.
Title 13C natural abundance in plant communities along a rainfall gradient: A biological integrator of water availability
Journal name Australian Journal of Plant Physiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0310-7841
1446-5655
Publication date 1995-01-01
Year available 1995
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/PP9950051
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 22
Issue 1
Start page 51
End page 55
Total pages 5
Place of publication Collingwood, VIC, Australia
Publisher CSIRO
Language eng
Abstract Carbon isotope natural abundance (delta(13)C) has been previously used as a powerful tool in the study of water-using processes at the leaf, individual and within-community levels. We analysed 348 species from 12 plant communities along a 900 km-long rainfall gradient in southern Queensland. Although the range of delta(13)C values found in a given community was large, variability in the delta(13)C signature of plants within a community was relatively small given the large numbers of species sampled (mean n per site of 29) and the taxonomic diversity in each. The community-averaged delta(13)C signature ranged from -25.6 parts per thousand in a brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) dominated community in western Queensland to -31.2 parts per thousand in subtropical rainforest in eastern Queensland. A strong relationship was found between the delta(13)C value averaged for each site and rainfall within the range 350-1700 mm per annum. Foliar delta(13)C was also related to the number of rain days per annum and moisture balance (rainfall - evaporation). The strength of these relationships varied only slightly according to the rainfall parameter used, with values for r(2) of 0.78, 0.70, 0.70 and 0.74 for the relationship between delta(13)C and long-term rainfall average, 5-year rainfall average, number of rain days and moisture balance, respectively. Despite considerable taxonomic variability within a given plant community, the averaged delta(13)C signature for that community gives a strong indication of moisture availability.
Formatted abstract
Carbon isotope natural abundance (δ13C) has been previously used as a powerful tool in the study of water-using processes at the leaf, individual and within-community levels. We analysed 348 species from 12 plant communities along a 900 km-long rainfall gradient in southern Queensland. Although the range of δ13C values found in a given community was large, variability in the δ13C signature of plants within a community was relatively small given the large numbers of species sampled (mean n per site of 29) and the taxonomic diversity in each. The community-averaged δ13C signature ranged from -25.60 in a brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) dominated community in western Queensland to - 31.20 in subtropical rainforest in eastern Queensland. A strong relationship was found between the δ13C value averaged for each site and rainfall within the range 350-1700 mm per annum. Foliar δ13C was also related to the number of rain days per annum and moisture balance (rainfall - evaporation). The strength of these relationships varied only slightly according to the rainfall parameter used, with values for r2 of 0.78, 0.70, 0.70 and 0.74 for the relationship between δ13C and long-term rainfall average, 5-year rainfall average, number of rain days and moisture balance, respectively. Despite considerable taxonomic variability within a given plant community, the averaged δ13C signature for that community gives a strong indication of moisture availability.
Keyword Carbon isotope discrimination
Crassulacean acid metabolism
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation Publications
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
 
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