Leaf size and foraging for light in a sclerophyll woodland
Article first published online: 23 SEP 2002
Volume 16, Issue 5, pages 633–639, October 2002
How to Cite
Bragg, J. G. and Westoby, M. (2002), Leaf size and foraging for light in a sclerophyll woodland. Functional Ecology, 16: 633–639. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2435.2002.00661.x
- Issue published online: 23 SEP 2002
- Article first published online: 23 SEP 2002
- Received 15 February 2002; accepted 1 March 2002
- Foraging scale;
- leaf size;
- plant metabolism
- 1It has been suggested that leaf size may represent a foraging scale, with smaller-leaved species exploiting and requiring higher resource concentrations that are available in smaller patches.
- 2Among 26 shrub species from a sclerophyll woodland community in New South Wales, Australia, species with smaller leaves tended to occur in better light environments, after controlling for height. The dark respiration rates of small-leaved species tended to exceed those of larger-leaved species.
- 3However, the higher-light environments where smaller-leaved species tended to occur had a patch scale larger than whole plants. There would not have been any foraging-scale impediment to large-leaved species occupying these higher-light patches. An alternative explanation for small-leaved species being more successful in higher-light patches, in this vegetation with moderate shading, might be that they were less prone to leaf overheating.
- 4Such relationships of leaf size to light across species at a given height may be important contributors to the wide spread of leaf sizes among species within a vegetation type, along with patterns down the light profile of the canopy, and effects associated with architecture and ramification strategy.