Scaling-up from leaf to canopy-aggregate properties in sclerophyll shrub species

Cassia Read, Ian J. Wright*, Mark Westoby

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Plant species vary widely in their average leaf lifespan (LL) and specific leaf area (SLA, leaf area per dry mass). The negative LL-SLA relationship commonly seen among species represents an important evolutionary trade-off, with higher SLA indicating greater potential for fast growth (higher rate of return on a given investment), but longer LL indicating a longer duration of the revenue stream from that investment. We investigated how these leaf-economic traits related to aggregate properties of the plant crown. Across 14 Australian sclerophyll shrub species, those with long LL accumulated more leaf mass and leaf area per unit ground area. Light attenuation through their canopies was more severe. Leaf accumulation and light attenuation were more weakly related to SLA than to LL. The greater accumulation of foliage in species with longer LL and lower SLA may counterbalance their generally lower photosynthetic rates and light-capture areas per gram of leaf.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)310-316
    Number of pages7
    JournalAustral Ecology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 2006


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