Plants and Their Environment
In our previous discussions of animals and humans we have found that certain environments are unsuitable for life. An animal can choose its environment to best suits its energetics. Plants are not able to move around to find a suitable environment, but we see considerable evidence that selection and adaptation result in leaf morphologies, canopy structures, etc. which give the plants native to a given environment a competitive advantage for that location. Desert plants, for example, tend to have quite narrow leaves, while leaves of plants from more moist environments may be much larger. We might ask ourselves what environmental limitations there are to leaf size and other leaf characteristics related to energy exchange or whether there is an optimum leaf form for a particular leaf environment. Obviously, factors outside the scope of this discussion will influence the optimum leaf form for a given environment, such as structural economy, canopy structure, and predation. We will concern ourselves primarily with the effects of physical environment on photosynthesis and transpiration with the idea of indicating what leaf characteristics might be best suited to a particular environment.
KeywordsLeaf Temperature Total Solar Irradiance Vapor Density Leaf Orientation Maximum Photosynthesis
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