Relationship between leaf functional traits and productivity in Aquilaria crassna (Thymelaeaceae) plantations: a tool to aid in the early selection of high-yielding trees

López-Sampson, Arlene, Cernusak, Lucas A., and Page, Tony (2017) Relationship between leaf functional traits and productivity in Aquilaria crassna (Thymelaeaceae) plantations: a tool to aid in the early selection of high-yielding trees. Tree Physiology, 37. pp. 645-653.

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Physiological traits are frequently used as indicators of tree productivity. Aquilaria species growing in a research planting were studied to investigate relationships between leaf-productivity traits and tree growth. Twenty-eight trees were selected to measure isotopic composition of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) and monitor six leaf attributes. Trees were sampled randomly within each of four diametric classes (at 150 mm above ground level) ensuring the variability in growth of the whole population was represented. A model averaging technique based on the Akaike's information criterion was computed to identify whether leaf traits could assist in diameter prediction. Regression analysis was performed to test for relationships between carbon isotope values and diameter and leaf traits. Approximately one new leaf per week was produced by a shoot. The rate of leaf expansion was estimated as 1.45 mm day−1. The range of δ13C values in leaves of Aquilaria species was from −25.5‰ to −31‰, with an average of −28.4 ‰ (±1.5‰ SD). A moderate negative correlation (R2 = 0.357) between diameter and δ13C in leaf dry matter indicated that individuals with high intercellular CO2 concentrations (low δ13C) and associated low water-use efficiency sustained rapid growth. Analysis of the 95% confidence of best-ranked regression models indicated that the predictors that could best explain growth in Aquilaria species were δ13C, δ15N, petiole length, number of new leaves produced per week and specific leaf area. The model constructed with these variables explained 55% (R2 = 0.55) of the variability in stem diameter. This demonstrates that leaf traits can assist in the early selection of high-productivity trees in Aquilaria species.

Item ID: 49601
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-4469
Keywords: foliar δ¹³C; model average technique; morphological leaf traits; petiole length; tree productivity
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 4 of the following PhD thesis: López Sampson, Arlene (2017) Growth physiology and productivity of cultivated Aquilaria crassna Pierre ex Lecomte (Thymelaeceae) in tropical Australia and its reproduction biology. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: AusAID
Projects and Grants: AusAID Australia Award Postgraduate Scholarship
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2017 05:09
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3108 Plant biology > 310806 Plant physiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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