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Fakultät für Biologie, Chemie und Geowissenschaften

Lehrstuhl Pflanzenökologie - Prof. Dr. Steven Higgins

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Niinemets, Ü: Plant growth-form alters the relationship between foliar morphology and species shade-tolerance ranking in temperate woody taxa, Vegetatio, 124, 145-153 (1996)
Variation in leaf size (area per leaf) and leaf dry weight per area (LWA) in relation to species shade- and drought- tolerance, characterised by Ellenberg"s light (ELD) and water demand (EWD) values, respectively, were examined in 60 temperate woody taxa at constant relative irradiance. LWA was independent of plant size, but leaf size increased with total plant height at constant ELD. Canopy position also affected leaf morphology: leaves from the upper crown third had higher LWA and were larger than leaves from the lower third. Leaf size and LWA were negatively correlated, and leaf size decreased and LWA increased with decreasing species shade-tolerance. Mean LWA was similar for trees and shrubs, but trees had larger leaves than shrubs. Furthermore, all relationships were altered by plant growth-form: none of the qualitative tendencies was significant for trees. This implies the considerably lower plasticity of foliar parameters in trees than those in shrubs. Accordingly, shade-tolerance of trees, having relatively constant leaf structure, may be most affected by the variability in biomass partitioning and crown geometry which influence foliage distribution and spacing and finally determine canopy light absorptance. Alteration of leaf form and investment pattern for construction of unit foliar surface area which change the efficiency of light interception per unit biomass investment in leaves, is a competitive strategy inherent to shrubs. EWD as well as wood anatomy did not control LWA and leaf size, though there was a trend of ring-porous tree species to be more shade-tolerant than diffuse-porous trees. Since ring-porous species are more vulnerable to cavitation than diffuse- porous species, they may be constrained to environments where irradiances and consequently evaporative demand is lower.
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