Morphological, anatomical and physiological traits of Euryodendron excelsum as affected by conservation translocation (augmentation vs. conservation introduction) in South China
Euryodendron excelsum is a rare and endangered evergreen tree in South China. We conducted two experimental translocations (augmentation and conservation introduction) on this species and assessed morphological, anatomical and physiological traits of leaves after translocation. The introduction plants showed smaller specific leaf area, less developed palisade tissues, smaller palisade/spongy tissue ratio, stomata density and anthocyanin content, lower values of maximal quantum yield of PSII photochemistry, photochemical quenching coefficient, net photosynthetic rate, light-saturated net photosynthetic rate, light-saturation point, but higher light-compensation point. These differences in traits help explain why augmented plants grew faster than introduced plants. We found that E. excelsum can adapt to wide ranges of light intensity and water availability, including conditions encountered at the introduction site. Our findings suggest that some endemic and endangered plants with narrow distribution may adapt to different habitat conditions by rapidly altering their morphological, anatomical, and physiological traits.