Water transport in leaf vasculature is a fundamental process affecting plant growth, ecological interactions and ecosystem productivity, yet the architecture of leaf vascular networks is poorly understood. Although Murray's law and the West-Brown-Enquist (WBE) theories predict convergent scaling of conduit width and number, it is not known how conduit scaling is affected by habitat aridity or temperature. We measured the scaling of leaf size, conduit width and conduit number within the leaves of 36 evergreen Angiosperms spanning a large range in aridity and temperature in eastern Australia. Scaling of conduit width and number in midribs and 2° veins did not differ across species and habitats (P > 0.786), and did not differ from that predicted by Murray's law (P = 0.151). Leaf size was strongly correlated with the hydraulic radius of petiole conduits (r2 = 0.83, P < 0.001) and did not differ among habitats (P > 0.064), nor did the scaling exponent differ significantly from that predicted by hydraulic theory (P = 0.086). The maximum radius of conduits in petioles was positively correlated with the temperature of the coldest quarter (r2 = 0.67; P < 0.001), suggesting that habitat temperature restricts the occurrence of wide-conduit species in cold habitats.
- leaf size
- Murray's law
- vessel diameter
- vessel number
- West-Brown-Enquist (WBE) theory