Leaf size and foraging for light in a sclerophyll woodland

J. G. Bragg*, M. Westoby

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)


    1. It has been suggested that leaf size may represent a foraging scale, with smaller-leaved species exploiting and requiring higher resource concentrations that are available in smaller patches. 2. Among 26 shrub species from a sclerophyll woodland community in New South Wales, Australia, species with smaller leaves tended to occur in better light environments, after controlling for height. The dark respiration rates of small-leaved species tended to exceed those of larger-leaved species. 3. However, the higher-light environments where smaller-leaved species tended to occur had a patch scale larger than whole plants. There would not have been any foraging-scale impediment to large-leaved species occupying these higher-light patches. An alternative explanation for small-leaved species being more successful in higher-light patches, in this vegetation with moderate shading, might be that they were less prone to leaf overheating. 4. Such relationships of leaf size to light across species at a given height may be important contributors to the wide spread of leaf sizes among species within a vegetation type, along with patterns down the light profile of the canopy, and effects associated with architecture and ramification strategy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)633-639
    Number of pages7
    JournalFunctional Ecology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002


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