Comparison of leaf construction costs in woody species with differing leaf life-spans in contrasting ecosystems

Authors

  • Rafael Villar,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Universidad de Sevilla, Apdo 1095, 41080 Sevilla, Spain;
    2. present address: Area de Ecología, Universidad de Córdoba, Colonia San José n°3, 14071 Córdoba, Spain;
    • Author for correspondence: Rafael Villar Tel: +34 957 21 86 35 Fax: +34 957 21 82 33 Email:bv1vimor@uco.es

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  • José Merino

    1. Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Universidad de Sevilla, Apdo 1095, 41080 Sevilla, Spain;
    2. present address: Departamento de Ciencias Ambientales, Universidad Pablo Olavide, Carretera de Utrera Km 1, 41013 Sevilla, Spain
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Abstract

Summary

  •  The construction costs (CC) are reported of leaves from 162 wild woody species from 14 contrasting environments (desert to rain forest) and with different leaf life-spans.
  •  Calorimetric methods were used to estimate the CC of deciduous, semideciduous and evergreen leaves.
  •  Leaf CC showed a wide range (78%) between species, and deciduous species showed a slightly lower CC (6%) than both semideciduous and evergreen species. Mean leaf CC differed between ecosystems, with the highest and lowest CC in the tundra and rain forest, respectively. Leaf CC was positively correlated with lipid concentration. Leaf size (log) and specific leaf area (SLA, leaf area per leaf dry mass) were negatively correlated with leaf CC. Leaf CC did not show differences between different leaf life-spans or ecosystems when leaf size (log) or SLA were included as covariates.
  •  The small differences in leaf CC among leaf life-span types and ecosystems (6% and 23%, respectively) suggest that SLA is more important in determining differences in the carbon balance between species than leaf CC. Leaf size is shown to be an important trait associated with other leaf characteristics.

Abbreviations

A, ash concentration; CC, construction cost per unit dry mass; CCA, construction cost per unit area; Eg, growth efficiency; Hc, ash free heat of combustion; N, nitrogen; SLA, specific leaf area.

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