A spatially explicit model of patchy stomatal responses to humidity


James W. Haefner. E-mail: jhaefner@biology.usu.edu


Stomata of leaves can exhibit either temporally stable, spatially homogeneous behaviour or complex spatial and temporal dynamics, depending on environmental and physiological conditions. To test the ability of accepted physiological mechanisms to describe these patterns, we developed a simple, spatially explicit model of stomatal responses to humidity that incorporated hydraulic interactions among stomata. Model results showed qualitative agreement with experimental evidence for a number of phenomena: (1) at high humidities, whole-leaf steady-state conductance is a monotonic function of humidity; (2) the initial stomatal response following a perturbation in humidity is in the direction opposite to the final response, and (3) spatial dynamics include patch formation and self-organization similar to that observed in actual leaves. These comparisons do not eliminate other explanations, but do suggest that novel mechanisms need not be invoked to explain the diversity of spatial and temporal patterns of stomatal behaviour in leaves.