text by Guo Dali
Ülo has recently coauthored an article with Prof. Guo Dali’s lab from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences. First author of the paper is Le Li and the paper is titled “Leaf economics and hydraulic traits are decoupled in five species-rich tropical-subtropical forests” is now available online in Ecology Letters (link to full text).
Among various plant functional traits, leaf economics and hydraulic traits have received much attention, given that both sets of traits are critical for leaf photosynthesis. However, it is still an open question whether these two sets of traits vary in a fully coordinated manner or is there room for independent variation. In this study, we tested the relationship between leaf economics traits including leaf nitrogen concentration and leaf dry mass per area, and leaf hydraulic traits including stomatal density and vein density among 85 woody species in five tropical-subtropical forests.
Surprisingly, these two suites of traits were statistically decoupled. This decoupling suggests that independent trait dimensions exist within a leaf, with leaf economics dimension corresponding to light capture and tissue longevity, and leaf hydraulic dimension to water use and gas exchange. Clearly, leaf economics and hydraulic traits can vary independently, thus allowing for more possible plant trait combinations. Compared with a single trait dimension, multiple trait dimensions may better enable species adaptations to multifarious niche dimensions, promote diverse plant strategies and facilitate species coexistence.
Full citation: Li, L., McCormack, M. L., Ma, C., Kong, D., Zhang, Q., Chen, X., Zeng, H., Niinemets, Ü. & Guo, D. (2015). Leaf economics and hydraulic traits are decoupled in five species‐rich tropical‐subtropical forests. Ecology letters, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12466.