Photosynthetically relevant foliar traits correlating better on a mass vs an area basis: of ecophysiological relevance or just a case of mathematical imperatives and statistical quicksand?

Lloyd, Jon, Bloomfield, Keith, Domingues, Tomas, and Farquhar, Graham (2013) Photosynthetically relevant foliar traits correlating better on a mass vs an area basis: of ecophysiological relevance or just a case of mathematical imperatives and statistical quicksand? New Phytologist, 199 (2). pp. 311-321.

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Abstract

Plant biologists have long had a choice of the dimensions in which to express their studied traits and/or processes. For example, a plant physiologist working at the leaf level might typically measure and report photosynthetic rates as a flux per unit leaf area (e.g. μmol CO₂ m⁻² s⁻¹) whereas a biochemist might typically express the same process per unit chlorophyll. An agronomist or forester would usually be more interested in dry matter accumulation rate per unit ground area (Mg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹) or sometimes even as a relative growth rate (g DW g⁻¹ DW d⁻¹). Although expressing leaf-level photosynthesis on an area basis seems intuitive and was for decades the standard practice, starting with Field & Mooney (1986) and then Reich & Walters (1994), there has been an increasing tendency to express the photosynthetic characteristics of leaves on a dry-weight basis (typically nmol CO₂ g⁻¹ s⁻¹). This trend has been due, at least in part, to stronger correlations for mass-based photosynthetic rates with foliar properties thought to be important in their modulation (Reich et al., 1998). Weaker associations between foliar properties when expressed on an area-basis have also provided one rationale for the inclusion of mass-based measures of photosynthesis, nitrogen and phosphorus into a so-called 'leaf economics spectrum' (Wright et al., 2004) and with mass-based measures of photosynthetic carbon exchange subsequently underlying further analyses (Shipley et al., 2006). Some modelling studies investigating the relative importance of nitrogen vs phosphorus as modulators of leaf photosynthetic capacity have likewise been parameterized on a mass rather than an area-basis because of the apparently superior model fit of the former (Domingues et al., 2010).

Item ID: 41499
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1469-8137
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2015 05:57
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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