Cross-species patterns in the coordination between leaf and stem traits, and their implications for plant hydraulics


  • Edited by V. Hurry



Through identifying and understanding ecologically important dimensions of plant trait variation we gain insight into why particular trait combinations are favoured and into the implications of trait differences among species. Here, we describe relationships among several poorly understood leaf and stem traits across species from several Australian vegetation types. Species with lower wood density (WD) consistently deployed more leaf area per unit shoot mass (LA/SM), as did the larger-leaved species within forested sites. Higher LA/SM is likely to lead to faster growth rates, implying a previously unrecognized implication to interspecific variation in leaf size and WD. Leaf : sapwood area ratio is one of several important traits contributing to a plant's water-use strategy, yet, we still only poorly understand how plants vary in the extent to which hydraulic properties and traits such as leaf size, WD and LM/SM are coordinated, and what the implications of this variation may be.