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Response of Common Garden Plant Leaf Traits to Air Pollution in Urban Parks of Suzhou City (China)

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Yang, ZY; Zhang, X; Qu, YT; Gao, F; Li, YT; Santiago, JL; Sanchez, B; Rivas, E

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2023

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14

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In this study, to comprehensively investigate the impact of garden plants on air quality, we measured the leaves of 18 common garden plants in three different areas, namely, Suzhou industrial parks (clean air area (CAA)), Xiangcheng district parks (lightly polluted area (LPA)), and Huqiu district parks (highly polluted area (HPA)). We also measured the leaf functional traits of different life-types of plants. To explore the trade-off strategies of the leaf traits of common garden plants in response to air pollution and to assess the adaptive capacity of different life types of plants to air pollution. The results show that plants in the polluted area had higher leaf dry matter content (LDMC) and leaf nitrogen content per unit mass (Nmass), and a lower specific leaf area (SLA), maximum net photosynthetic rate per unit area (Aarea), transpiration rate (Tr), stomatal conductance (Gs), and chlorophyll value (SPAD). Pearson correlation analysis showed that SLA was significantly positively correlated with Nmass, Tr, photosynthetic use efficiency (PNUE), and SPAD, and significantly negatively correlated with LDMC, while Aarea was significantly positively correlated with chlorophyll value. Redundancy analysis revealed that the correlation between each leaf functional trait and atmospheric pollution factors was as follows: LDMC > Nmass > SLA > LA > Aarea > Tr > PNUE > SPAD. The results suggest that different plant types have varying levels of adaptability to environmental conditions. Trees were found to be the most adaptable, followed by shrubs, herbs, and lianas. Additionally, under the stress of air pollution, herbs and lianas exhibited characteristics of fast investment-return on the leaf economic spectrum, meaning they were able to quickly allocate resources to maximize their return. However, trees and shrubs displayed traits of slow investment-return, indicating a more conservative approach to resource allocation. These results provide valuable insights into the leaf trade-off strategies of plants in Suzhou Park under air pollution stress and can guide the selection of suitable plant species in similar environments.

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