Specific leaf area: A predictive model using dried samples

Vania Torrez*, Peter M. Jørgensen, Amy E. Zanne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Specific leaf area (SLA; fresh-leaf area/dry mass) describes the amount of leaf area for light capture per unit of biomass invested. The standard protocol is simple; however, it requires recently collected sun-exposed leaves to determine fresh-leaf area, limiting where and which samples can be studied. A protocol to predict SLA for fresh leaves from herbarium-dried leaves was developed from samples collected in a dry forest in Bolivia. Leaf area was measured both fresh and dried on the same leaf samples to generate two general mixed-effects models, varying in their inclusion of the position in the crown where the leaf developed. As a test of the potential generality of the models for other systems, we applied them to samples collected in an oak-hickory forest in Missouri, USA. Both models performed well. A recommended protocol for studies predicting SLA from dry leaves was developed. These predictive models and protocols can extend the temporal, geographic, ecological and taxonomic scope of SLA studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-357
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bolivia
  • dry forest
  • herbarium specimens
  • leaf traits
  • mixed-effects models.


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