Theories of Leaf Longevity

  • Kihachiro KikuzawaEmail author
  • Martin J. Lechowicz
Part of the Ecological Research Monographs book series (ECOLOGICAL)


The approach to theoretical work on leaf longevity is inspired by optimization models that came into vogue during the late 1960s to try to understand alternative modes of adaptation (Lewontin 1978). Reasoning in this conceptual framework and reviewing available data, Chabot and Hicks (1982) argued that leaves with higher construction cost should be longer lived because the period of photosynthetic gains to pay back the construction cost will be longer than for a leaf constructed at less cost. Using seven Mexican shrubs in the genus Piper (Piperaceae), Williams et al. (1989) set out to test this idea that leaf longevity should be determined by the time required for a leaf to pay back the costs of its construction. They found that, in contrast to Chabot and Hick’s supposition, leaf construction cost was negatively correlated with leaf longevity, not positively. Because construction costs measured as g[glucose]·g[leaf]−1 varied relatively little among their seven Piper species, only 1.2–1.6 g  g−1, they also examined the correlation of leaf longevity and leaf mass per unit area (LMA, g m−2), another presumed indicator of leaf construction cost. The LMA of the Piper species had manifold greater variation, ranging from 15 to 50 g  m−2, but also no significant correlation with leaf longevity in these Piper species.


Photosynthetic Rate Leaf Area Index Specific Leaf Area Construction Cost Carbon Gain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ishikawa Prefectural UniversityNonoichiJapan
  2. 2.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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