In the understory of a closed forest, plant growth is limited by light availability, and early leafing is proposed to be an important mechanism of plant invasion by providing a spring C "subsidy" when high light is available. However, studies on respiration, another important process determining plant net C gain, are rare in understory invasive plants. In this study, leaf properties and the temperature response of leaf respiration were compared between invasive Berberis thunbergii, an early leafing understory shrub, and two native shrubs, Kalmia latifolia, a broadleaf evergreen and Vaccinium corymbosum, a late-leafing deciduous species, in an oak-dominated deciduous forest. The seasonal trend of the basal respiration rates (R (0)) and the temperature response coefficient (E (0)), were different among the three shrubs and species-specific negative correlations were observed between R (0) and E (0). All three shrubs showed significant correlation between respiration rate on an area basis (20 degrees C) and leaf N on an area basis. The relationship was attributed to the variation of both leaf N on a mass basis and leaf mass per area (LMA) in B. thunbergii, but to LMA only in K. latifolia and V. corymbosum. After modeling leaf respiration throughout 2004, B. thunbergii displayed much higher annual leaf respiration (mass based) than the two native shrubs, indicating a higher cost per unit of biomass investment. Thus, respiratory properties alone were not likely to lead to C balance advantage of B. thunbergii. Future studies on whole plant C budgets and leaf construction cost are needed to address the C balance advantage in early leafing understory shrubs like B. thunbergii.
209RZTimes Cited:1Cited References Count:37