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The validity of optimal leaf traits modelled on environmental conditions


Bloomfield, KJ and Prentice, IC and Cernusak, LA and Eamus, D and Medlyn, BE and Rumman, R and Wright, IJ and Boer, MM and Cale, P and Cleverly, J and Egerton, JJG and Ellsworth, DS and Evans, BJ and Hayes, LS and Hutchinson, MF and Liddell, MJ and Macfarlane, C and Meyer, WS and Togashi, HF and Wardlaw, TJ and Zhu, L and Atkin, OK, The validity of optimal leaf traits modelled on environmental conditions, New Phytologist, 221, (3) pp. 1409-1423. ISSN 0028-646X (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2018 The Authors. New Phytologist Trust.

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.15495


The ratio of leaf intercellular to ambient CO2 (χ) is modulated by stomatal conductance (gs). These quantities link carbon (C) assimilation with transpiration, and along with photosynthetic capacities (Vcmax and Jmax ) are required to model terrestrial C uptake. We use optimization criteria based on the growth environment to generate predicted values of photosynthetic and water-use efficiency traits and test these against a unique dataset. Leaf gas-exchange parameters and carbon isotope discrimination were analysed in relation to local climate across a continental network of study sites. Sun-exposed leaves of 50 species at seven sites were measured in contrasting seasons. Values of χ predicted from growth temperature and vapour pressure deficit were closely correlated to ratios derived from C isotope (δ13C) measurements. Correlations were stronger in the growing season. Predicted values of photosynthetic traits, including carboxylation capacity (Vcmax), derived from δ13C, growth temperature and solar radiation, showed meaningful agreement with inferred values derived from gas-exchange measurements. Between-site differences in water-use efficiency were, however, only weakly linked to the plant's growth environment and did not show seasonal variation. These results support the general hypothesis that many key parameters required by Earth system models are adaptive and predictable from plants' growth environments.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:aridity, photosynthesis, stable isotopes, stomatal conductance (gs), temperature, water-use efficiency
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Plant physiology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Wardlaw, TJ (Dr Timothy Wardlaw)
ID Code:151993
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:26
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2022-08-09
Last Modified:2022-11-10

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