, Volume 156, Issue 1, pp 193-202

Coordination between leaf and stem traits related to leaf carbon gain and hydraulics across 32 drought-tolerant angiosperms

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Abstract

We examined 15 traits in leaves and stems related to leaf C economy and water use for 32 co-existing angiosperms at ridge sites with shallow soil in the Bonin Islands. Across species, stem density was positively correlated to leaf mass per area (LMA), leaf lifespan (LLS), and total phenolics and condensed tannins per unit leaf N (N-based), and negatively correlated to leaf osmotic potential and saturated water content in leaves. LMA and LLS were negatively correlated to photosynthetic parameters, such as area-, mass-, and N-based assimilation rates. Although stem density and leaf osmotic potential were not associated with photosynthetic parameters, they were associated with some parameters of the leaf C economy, such as LMA and LLS. In the principal component (PCA) analysis, the first three axes accounted for 74.4% of total variation. Axis 1, which explained 41.8% of the total variation, was well associated with parameters for leaf C and N economy. Similarly, axis 2, which explained 22.3% of the total variation, was associated with parameters for water use. Axis 3, which explained 10.3% of the total variation, was associated with chemical defense within leaves. Axes 1 and 2 separated functional types relatively well, i.e., creeping trees, ruderal trees, other woody plants, C3 shrubs and forbs, palms, and CAM plants, indicating that plant functional types were characterized by similar attributes of traits related to leaf C and N economy and water use. In addition, when the plot was extended by two unrelated traits, leaf mass-based assimilation rates and stem density, it also separated these functional types. These data indicate that differences in the functional types with contrasting plant strategies can be attributed to functional integration among leaf C economy, hydraulics, and leaf longevity, and that both leaf mass-based assimilation rates and stem density are key factors reflecting the different functions of plant species.

Communicated by Kouki Hikosaka.