Leaf mass per area, not total leaf area, drives differences in above-ground biomass distribution among woody plant functional types

Remko A. Duursma*, Daniel S. Falster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Here, we aim to understand differences in biomass distribution between major woody plant functional types (PFTs) (deciduous vs evergreen and gymnosperm vs angiosperm) in terms of underlying traits, in particular the leaf mass per area (LMA) and leaf area per unit stem basal area. We used a large compilation of plant biomass and size observations, including observations of 21 084 individuals on 656 species. We used a combination of semiparametric methods and variance partitioning to test the influence of PFT, plant height, LMA, total leaf area, stem basal area and climate on above-ground biomass distribution. The ratio of leaf mass to above-ground woody mass (MF/MS) varied strongly among PFTs. We found that MF/MS at a given plant height was proportional to LMA across PFTs. As a result, the PFTs did not differ in the amount of leaf area supported per unit above-ground biomass or per unit stem basal area. Climate consistently explained very little additional variation in biomass distribution at a given plant size. Combined, these results demonstrate consistent patterns in above-ground biomass distribution and leaf area relationships among major woody PFTs, which can be used to further constrain global vegetation models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-376
Number of pages9
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume212
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • allocation
  • biomass estimation
  • global vegetation model
  • plant allometry
  • specific leaf area

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