Leaf shape influences the scaling of leaf dry mass vs. area: a test case using bamboos
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Key message A highly significant and positive scaling relationship between bamboo leaf dry mass and leaf surface area was observed; leaf shape (here, represented by the quotient of leaf width and length) had a significant influence on the scaling exponent of leaf dry mass vs. area. Context The scaling of leaf dry mass vs. leaf area is important for understanding how plants effectively intercept sunlight and invest carbon to do so. However, comparatively few, if any, studies have focused on whether leaf shape influences this scaling relationship. Aims In order to explore the effects of leaf shape on the scaling relationship between leaf dry mass and area, we examined 101 species, varieties, forms, and cultivars of bamboo growing in China and identified the relationship between the scaling exponent of leaf dry mass vs. area and leaf shape. This taxon was used because its leaf shape is conserved across species and, therefore, easily quantified. Methods Ten thousand and forty-five leaves from 101 bamboo species, varieties, forms, and cultivars growing in China were collected, and leaf dry mass, the quotient of leaf width and length, leaf area, and leaf dry mass per unit area were measured. The effect of leaf shape that can be easily quantified using the quotient of leaf width and length on the relevant and ecologically important scaling exponents was explored using this data base. Results Leaf dry mass and area differed significantly across bamboo genera, and even within the same genus. However, a statistically robust log-log linear and positive scaling relationship was observed for mass and area with a 1.115 scaling exponent (95% CI = 1.107, 1.122; r(2) = 0.907). Leaf shape had a significant influence on the numerical values of the scaling exponent of leaf dry mass vs. area. When the median of the quotient of leaf width and length was below 0.125, the numerical value of the scaling exponent increased with increasing quotient of leaf width and length. When the median of the quotient of leaf width and length was above 0.125, the scaling exponent numerically decreased toward 1.0. Conclusion We show, for the first time, that a significant relationship exists between leaf shape and the numerical values of scaling exponents governing the scaling of leaf dry mass with respect to leaf area. In addition, we show that with the quotient of leaf width and length increasing mean LMA increases, which implies a negative correlation between mean LMA and the estimated exponent of leaf dry mass vs. area for the grouped data based on the sorted quotients of leaf width and length.
- RESEARCH: Hui C