Morphological and moisture availability controls of the leaf area-to-sapwood area ratio: analysis of measurements on Australian trees

Henrique Furstenau Togashi*, Iain Colin Prentice, Bradley John Evans, David Ian Forrester, Paul Drake, Paul Feikema, Kim Brooksbank, Derek Eamus, Daniel Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

1. The leaf area-to-sapwood area ratio (LA:SA) is a key plant trait that links photosynthesis to transpiration. The pipe model theory states that the sapwood cross-sectional area of a stem or branch at any point should scale isometrically with the area of leaves distal to that point. Optimization theory further suggests that LA:SA should decrease toward drier climates. Although acclimation of LA:SA to climate has been reported within species, much less is known about the scaling of this trait with climate among species.

2. We compiled LA:SA measurements from 184 species of Australian evergreen angiosperm trees. The pipe model was broadly confirmed, based on measurements on branches and trunks of trees from one to 27 years old. Despite considerable scatter in LA:SA among species, quantile regression showed strong (0.2 < R1 < 0.65) positive relationships between two climatic moisture indices and the lowermost (5%) and uppermost (5-15%) quantiles of log LA:SA, suggesting that moisture availability constrains the envelope of minimum and maximum values of LA:SA typical for any given climate.

3. Interspecific differences in plant hydraulic conductivity are probably responsible for the large scatter of values in the mid-quantile range and may be an important determinant of tree morphology. We compiled LA:SA measurements from 183 species of Australian evergreen angiosperm trees. The pipe model was broadly confirmed. LA:SA quantile regression showed positive relationships between two climatic moisture indices and the lowermost and uppermost quantiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-1270
Number of pages8
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume5
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2015. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Climatic moisture
  • leaf area
  • pipe model
  • plant hydraulics
  • sapwood area
  • tree morphology

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