Leaf physiological traits in relation to resprouter ability in the Mediterranean Basin
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In Mediterranean ecosystems, fire is a strong selective agent among plants, and the different post-fire regeneration strategies (e.g. resprouting and non-resprouting) have implications for other plant traits. Because young plants of non-resprouters need to grow quickly and mature well before the next fire, we predict that they should possess leaf traits related to increased efficiency in growth and resource acquisition compared with resprouter species. To test this hypothesis, we measured specific leaf area, leaf nitrogen and carbon concentrations and leaf physiological traits, including gas exchange parameters and chlorophyll fluorescence, in 19 Mediterranean species cultivated in a common garden. Both cross-species and phylogenetically informed analyses suggest that non-resprouters have better physiological performance at the leaf level (i.e. higher photosynthetic capacity) than resprouters. All these results suggest that non-resprouter species are able to take greater advantage for vegetative growth and carbon fixation than resprouters during periods when water is readily available. The contrasted physiological differences between resprouters and non-resprouters reinforce the idea that these two syndromes are functionally different (i.e. they are functional types).
KeywordsFunctional traits Leaf nitrogen and carbon Non-resprouters Photosynthetic capacity PSII photochemical efficiency Resprouters Specific leaf area
This study was financed by the Spanish projects SINREG (REN2003-07198-C02-02/GLO), PERSIST (CGL2006-07126/BOS), ESTRES (063/SGTB/2007/7.1) and FUME (GA-243888). E.I. Hernández thank the University of Alicante for her FPU research fellowship. We are all grateful to M. Llorca for assistance with the experiment, to J. Scheiding for language corrections on the manuscript, and to S. Paula for corrections and suggestions. CEAM is partly supported by Generalitat Valenciana, Fundación Bancaja, and the projects GRACCIE (Consolider-Ingenio 2010) and FEEDBACKS (Prometeo–Generalitat Valenciana). CIDE is supported by CSIC, Generalitat Valenciana and Universitat de Valencia.
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