Ecological Research

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 333–346 | Cite as

Optimum leaf size predicted by a novel leaf energy balance model incorporating dependencies of photosynthesis on light and temperature

  • Yuki OkajimaEmail author
  • Haruhiko Taneda
  • Ko Noguchi
  • Ichiro Terashima
Original Article


To clarify relationships between leaf size and the environment variables, we constructed an energy balance model for a single leaf incorporating Leuning’s stomatal conductance model and Farquhar’s leaf photosynthesis model. We ran this model for various environmental conditions paying particular attention to the leaf boundary layer. The leaf size maximizing the rate of photosynthesis per unit leaf area (A) at a high irradiance differed depending on the air temperature. In warm environments, A increased with decrease in leaf size, whereas in cool environments, there was the leaf size maximizing A. With the increase in leaf size, the CO2 concentration inside the leaf (C i) decreased and the leaf temperature increased, both due to lower boundary layer conductance. At low air temperatures, the negative effect of low C i on A in large leaves was compensated by the increase in leaf temperature towards the optimum temperature for A. This balance determined the optimum leaf size for A at low air temperatures. With respect to water use efficiency, large leaves tended to be advantageous, especially in cool environments at low-to-medium irradiances. Some temperature-dependent trends in leaf size observed in nature are discussed based on the present results.


Energy balance Leaf size Photosynthetic acclimation to growth air temperature Stomatal conductance Patterns of boundary layer conductance 



We are grateful to Dr. T. Tani (Joetsu University of Education) for instruction of calculation methods. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (No. 21114001) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (I.T.), and a research fellowship for young scientists (No. 10J09332) from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Y.O.).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (JPEG 254 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (JPEG 383 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (TXT 10 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuki Okajima
    • 1
    Email author
  • Haruhiko Taneda
    • 1
  • Ko Noguchi
    • 1
  • Ichiro Terashima
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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