The distribution of stomata over both leaf surfaces may affect both the photosynthetic rate and water use efficiency of species, implying that species with different photosynthetic and water requirements may also have different stomatal distributions. A database containing data on the distribution of stomata on the leaves of 469 British plant species was used to look for relationships between stomatal distribution (including both location on the leaf and density) and both habitat and morphological variables. Statistical models were applied to the data that minimized any effects that phylogenetic constraints may have had on the data.
Hypostomaty is common in woody species, species which typically occur in shaded habitats and species with large or glabrous leaves. Amphistomaty, however, predominates in species which occur in non-shaded habitats, species with small, dissected or hairy leaves, and in annual species. Amphistomaty, therefore, tends to occur in species where CO2 may be limiting photosynthesis (unshaded environments), or where there are structures to prevent water loss from the leaf (e.g. hairs). Hypostomaty, however, occurs in slow-growing species (e.g. trees), species with leaves which have large boundary layers (large or entire leaves) and in species where CO2 is unlikely to limit photosynthesis (shaded habitats).