1021-4437/02/4903- $27.00 © 2002
Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, Vol. 49, No. 3, 2002, pp. 360–363. From Fiziologiya Rastenii, Vol. 49, No. 3, 2002, pp. 402–406.
Original English Text Copyright © 2002 by Tsialtas, Kassioumi, Veresoglou.
Plant species vary in the chemical composition and
the energy that they need for their tissue construction.
The energy needed for plant body construction is called
the construction cost (CC) and is expressed in g glucose
consumed per gram of constructed biomass (g glu-
Leaf CC has gained in interest due to its relation to
leaf physiological traits . Poorter and Bergkotte 
reported no differences in leaf CC between fast- and
slow-growing species, whereas there are variations in
CC only between plant organs . In addition, a posi-
tive correlation between leaf longevity and leaf CC has
been already reported [3, 4]. Species from poor envi-
ronments are characterized by long-lived leaves and
consequently by a higher leaf CC as compared to spe-
cies from fertile habitats. Species from poor environ-
ments have leaves with a low speciﬁc leaf area, low
water content, and large amounts of secondary cell-wall
compounds. The low leaf CC is related to species abil-
ity to invade an environment  as a consequence of the
relation of leaf CC with plant ecological strategies .
Species from fertile habitats have leaves with a short
life span, low CC, and high mineral and nitrogen con-
The aim of this work was to determine the leaf CC
in the most abundant species in an upland Mediterra-
nean grassland during the growing season and to corre-
late leaf CC with soil inorganic nitrogen availability.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The experiment was conducted in an upland grass-
E, 1115 m above sea level) of
Mount Vermion, Greece. The grassland is grazed by
cattle and sheep from early May to August. To prevent
grazing, a 15
25 m area was closed off in early May
1996. The grassland is dominated by perennial C
grasses and forbs, and seven species (
Lolium perenne, Festuca valida, Taraxacum ofﬁcinale,
Achillea millefolium, Plantago lanceolata
) contribute more than 80% of the produced
aboveground biomass. The soil is loamy, with pH 6.1.
During 1997 growing season (April–July), seven
aboveground biomass samplings were performed every
two weeks beginning on April 23rd and ending on July
16th in order to determine the community composition.
In each sampling, 12 randomly selected 25
quadrats were cut at 2 cm above soil surface. Samples
were sorted based on component species, dried (75
48 h), and weighed. Relative species abundance was
calculated as a percentage of the individual species bio-
mass to the community biomass .
Leaf Construction Cost of the Most Abundant Species
in an Upland Grassland Area of Northern Greece*
J. T. Tsialtas, M. Kassioumi, and D. S. Veresoglou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Agriculture, Laboratory of Ecology and Environmental Protection,
Thessaloniki, 540 06 Greece;
fax: 30(31) 99-8854; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received August 8, 2001
—The leaf construction cost, i.e., the energy expenditure required for the production of plant biomass
(CC, g glucose/g dry biomass), is considered to be a major determinant of species success in various habitats.
Nitrogen, carbon, and mineral contents in leaves were used to measure leaf CC. The aboveground biomass was
sampled from the most abundant plant species (
Weber ex Wigg,
L.) during the 1997 growing season in an upland grassland dominated by C
species. Soil samplings
were performed in parallel with leaf samplings in order to determine soil inorganic nitrogen.
had the highest nitrogen concentration; grasses had the highest carbon content, while the highest mineral con-
tent was observed in the leaves of the forb species. The highest leaf CC was calculated for the legume
followed by the grass
had the “cheapest” leaves, since it had the lowest CC. A
positive correlation between leaf CC and soil inorganic nitrogen was evident for grasses (
L. perenne, F. valida
Key words: grasses - leaf construction cost - forbs - grassland - legumes
: CC—construction cost.
*This article was submitted by the authors in English.