Weak coordination among petiole, leaf, vein, and gas-exchange traits across Australian angiosperm species and its possible implications

Sean M. Gleason*, Chris J. Blackman, Yvonne Chang, Alicia M. Cook, Claire A. Laws, Mark Westoby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Close coordination between leaf gas exchange and maximal hydraulic supply has been reported across diverse plant life forms. However, it has also been suggested that this relationship may become weak or break down completely within the angiosperms. We examined coordination between hydraulic, leaf vein, and gas-exchange traits across a diverse group of 35 evergreen Australian angiosperms, spanning a large range in leaf structure and habitat. Leaf-specific conductance was calculated from petiole vessel anatomy and was also measured directly using the rehydration technique. Leaf vein density (thought to be a determinant of gas exchange rate), maximal stomatal conductance, and net CO2 assimilation rate were also measured for most species (n = 19-35). Vein density was not correlated with leaf-specific conductance (either calculated or measured), stomatal conductance, nor maximal net CO2 assimilation, with r2 values ranging from 0.00 to 0.11, P values from 0.909 to 0.102, and n values from 19 to 35 in all cases. Leaf-specific conductance calculated from petiole anatomy was weakly correlated with maximal stomatal conductance (r2 = 0.16; P = 0.022; n = 32), whereas the direct measurement of leaf-specific conductance was weakly correlated with net maximal CO2 assimilation (r2 = 0.21; P = 0.005; n = 35). Calculated leaf-specific conductance, xylem ultrastructure, and leaf vein density do not appear to be reliable proxy traits for assessing differences in rates of gas exchange or growth across diverse sets of evergreen angiosperms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-278
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

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  • Angiosperms
  • CO₂ assimilation
  • gas exchange
  • plant hydraulics
  • stomatal conductance
  • trait coordination

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