Skip to Main Content
Height is more important than light in determining leaf morphology in a tropical forestAuthor(s): Molly A. Cavaleri; Steven F. Oberbauer; David B. Clark; Deborah A. Clark; Michael G. Ryan
Source: Ecology. 91(6): 1730-1739.
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
PDF: Download Publication (492.59 KB)
DescriptionBoth within and between species, leaf physiological parameters are strongly related to leaf dry mass per area (LMA, g/m2), which has been found to increase from forest floor to canopy top in every forest where it has been measured. Although vertical LMA gradients in forests have historically been attributed to a direct phenotypic response to light, an increasing number of recent studies have provided evidence that water limitation in the upper canopy can constrain foliar morphological adaptations to higher light levels. We measured height, light, and LMA of all species encountered along 45 vertical canopy transects across a Costa Rican tropical rain forest. LMA was correlated with light levels in the lower canopy until approximately 18 m sample height and 22% diffuse transmittance. Height showed a remarkably linear relationship with LMA throughout the entire vertical canopy profile for all species pooled and for each functional group individually (except epiphytes), possibly through the influence of gravity on leaf water potential and turgor pressure. Models of forest function may be greatly simplified by estimating LMA-correlated leaf physiological parameters solely from foliage height profiles, which in turn can be assessed with satellite- and aircraft-based remote sensing.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationCavaleri, Molly A.; Oberbauer, Steven F.; Clark, David B.; Clark, Deborah A.; Ryan, Michael G. 2010. Height is more important than light in determining leaf morphology in a tropical forest. Ecology. 91(6): 1730-1739.
Keywordsfoliar morphology, leaf mass per area, light environment, shade leaves, specific leaf area, sun leaves, tropical rain forest, turgor pressure, vertical gradient, water potential
- Converging patterns of vertical variability in leaf morphology and nitrogen across seven Eucalyptus plantations in Brazil and Hawaii, USA
- Taxonomy and remote sensing of leaf mass per area (LMA) in humid tropical forests
- First direct landscape-scale measurement of tropical rain forest Leaf Area Index, a key driver of global primary productivity
XML: View XML