Is there a species spectrum within the world-wide leaf economics spectrum? Major variations in leaf functional traits in the Mediterranean sclerophyll Quercus ilex

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2014
Authors:Ü. Niinemets
Journal:New PhytologistNew Phytologist
ISBN Number:1469-8137
Keywords:bioclimatic niche, climatic drivers, dry mass per unit area, leaf economics spectrum, leaf physiognomy, nitrogen, photosynthesis, trait relationships

The leaf economics spectrum is a general concept describing coordinated variation in foliage structural, chemical and physiological traits across resource gradients. Yet, within this concept, the role of within-species variation, including ecotypic and plastic variation components, has been largely neglected. This study hypothesized that there is a within-species economics spectrum within the general spectrum in the evergreen sclerophyll Quercus ilex which dominates low resource ecosystems over an exceptionally wide range. An extensive database of foliage traits covering the full species range was constructed, and improved filtering algorithms were developed. Standardized data filtering was deemed absolutely essential as additional variation sources can result in trait variation of 10–300%, blurring the broad relationships. Strong trait variation, c. two-fold for most traits to up to almost an order of magnitude, was uncovered. Although the Q. ilex spectrum is part of the general spectrum, within-species trait and climatic relationships in this species partly differed from the overall spectrum. Contrary to world-wide trends, Q. ilex does not necessarily have a low nitrogen content per mass and can increase photosynthetic capacity with increasing foliage robustness. This study argues that the within-species economics spectrum needs to be considered in regional- to biome-level analyses.

Short Title:New Phytol
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith