Leaf economics and plant hydraulics drive leaf: wood area ratios

Maurizio Mencuccini, Teresa Rosas, Lucy Rowland, Brendan Choat, Hans Cornelissen, Steven Jansen, Koen Kramer, Andrei Lapenis, Stefano Manzoni, Ülo Niinemets, Peter Reich, Franziska Schrodt, Nadia Soudzilovskaia, Ian J. Wright, Jordi Martínez-Vilalta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Biomass and area ratios between leaves, stems and roots regulate many physiological and ecological processes. The Huber value Hv (sapwood area/leaf area ratio) is central to plant water balance and drought responses. However, its coordination with key plant functional traits is poorly understood, and prevents developing trait-based prediction models. Based on theoretical arguments, we hypothesise that global patterns in Hv of terminal woody branches can be predicted from variables related to plant trait spectra, that is plant hydraulics and size and leaf economics. Using a global compilation of 1135 species-averaged Hv, we show that Hv varies over three orders of magnitude. Higher Hv are seen in short small-leaved low-specific leaf area (SLA) shrubs with low Ks in arid relative to tall large-leaved high-SLA trees with high Ks in moist environments. All traits depend on climate but climatic correlations are stronger for explanatory traits than Hv. Negative isometry is found between Hv and Ks, suggesting a compensation to maintain hydraulic supply to leaves across species. This work identifies the major global drivers of branch sapwood/leaf area ratios. Our approach based on widely available traits facilitates the development of accurate models of above-ground biomass allocation and helps predict vegetation responses to drought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1544-1556
Number of pages13
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume224
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) via competitive grants CGL2013-46808-R and CGL2017-89149-C2-1-R. TR was supported by an FPI scholarship from MINECO. JMV benefited from an ICREA Academia award. FS acknowledges support from a University of Nottingham Anne McLaren fellowship. We remember S. Patiño (deceased) and thank J. Lloyd for initially drawing our attention to the RAINFOR and TROBIT field collections of Huber values. The data derived from the hydraulics database are partly an outcome from a working group funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) through the Australia– New Zealand Research Network for Vegetation Function. The study was supported by the TRY initiative on plant traits (www. try-db.org) and relative supporting agencies. SM acknowledges partial support from the Swedish Research Council Formas (2016–00998). We thank three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) via competitive grants CGL2013-46808-R and CGL2017-89149-C2-1-R. TR was supported by an FPI scholarship from MINECO. JMV benefited from an ICREA Academia award. FS acknowledges support from a University of Nottingham Anne McLaren fellowship. We remember S. Pati?o (deceased) and thank J. Lloyd for initially drawing our attention to the RAINFOR and TROBIT field collections of Huber values. The data derived from the hydraulics database are partly an outcome from a working group funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) through the Australia?New Zealand Research Network for Vegetation Function. The study was supported by the TRY initiative on plant traits (www.try-db.org) and relative supporting agencies. SM acknowledges partial support from the Swedish Research Council Formas (2016?00998). We thank three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust

Keywords

  • Corner's rules
  • Huber value
  • biomechanics
  • leaf economics spectrum
  • leaf size
  • trait trade-off
  • wood density
  • xylem hydraulics

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