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Title: Variations of leaf longevity in tropical moist forests predicted by a trait-driven carbon optimality model

Leaf longevity (LL) varies more than 20-fold in tropical evergreen forests, but it remains unclear how to capture these variations using predictive models. Current theories of LL that are based on carbon optimisation principles are challenging to quantitatively assess because of uncertainty across species in the ‘ageing rate:’ the rate at which leaf photosynthetic capacity declines with age. Here in this paper, we present a meta-analysis of 49 species across temperate and tropical biomes, demonstrating that the ageing rate of photosynthetic capacity is positively correlated with the mass-based carboxylation rate of mature leaves. We assess an improved trait-driven carbon optimality model with in situLL data for 105 species in two Panamanian forests. Additionally, we show that our model explains over 40% of the cross-species variation in LL under contrasting light environment. Collectively, our results reveal how variation in LL emerges from carbon optimisation constrained by both leaf structural traits and abiotic environment.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [6] ;  [8]
  1. Princeton Univ., NJ (United States). Department of Geosciences
  2. Princeton Univ., NJ (United States). Department of Geosciences; Univ. of Notre Dame, IN (United States). Department of Biological Sciences
  3. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa (Panama)
  4. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa (Panama); Kyoto Univ. (Japan). Graduate School of Agriculture
  5. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States). Biological, Environmental & Climate Sciences Dept.
  6. Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (United States). Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  7. National Institute of Amazonian Research - INPA, Petropolis (Brazil)
  8. Princeton Univ., NJ (United States). Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1461-023X; R&D Project: 80821; YN1901000
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0012704; SC0014363
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Ecology Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 20; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 1461-023X
Research Org:
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Carbon optimisation; functional trait; leaf ageing; leaf economics spectrum; leaf longevity; modelling; photosynthesis
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1374681