These authors contributed equally to this work.
Lifetime return on investment increases with leaf lifespan among 10 Australian woodland species
Article first published online: 8 NOV 2011
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust
Volume 193, Issue 2, pages 409–419, January 2012
How to Cite
Falster, D. S., Reich, P. B., Ellsworth, D. S., Wright, I. J., Westoby, M., Oleksyn, J. and Lee, T. D. (2012), Lifetime return on investment increases with leaf lifespan among 10 Australian woodland species. New Phytologist, 193: 409–419. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03940.x
- Issue published online: 20 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 8 NOV 2011
- Received: 26 June 2011, Accepted: 12 September 2011
- carbon balance;
- leaf lifespan;
- leaf traits;
- nutrient costs;
- YPLANT model
- •Co-occurring species often differ in their leaf lifespan (LL) and it remains unclear how such variation is maintained in a competitive context. Here we test the hypothesis that leaves of long-LL species yield a greater return in carbon (C) fixed per unit C or nutrient invested by the plant than those of short-LL species.
- •For 10 sympatric woodland species, we assessed three-dimensional shoot architecture, canopy openness, leaf photosynthetic light response, leaf dark respiration and leaf construction costs across leaf age sequences. We then used the YPLANT model to estimate light interception and C revenue along the measured leaf age sequences. This was done under a series of simulations that incorporated the potential covariates of LL in an additive fashion.
- •Lifetime return in C fixed per unit C, N or P invested increased with LL in all simulations.
- •In contrast to other recent studies, our results show that extended LL confers a fundamental economic advantage by increasing a plant’s return on investment in leaves. This suggests that time-discounting effects, that is, the compounding of income that arises from quick reinvestment of C revenue, are key in allowing short-LL species to succeed in the face of this economic handicap.