Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2012, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (4): 281-291.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2012.00281

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Trade-off between leaf size and number in current-year twigs of deciduous broad-leaved woody species at different altitudes on Qingliang Mountain, southeastern China

YANG Dong-Mei1*, ZHAN Feng2, and ZHANG Hong-Wei3   

  1. 1College of Chemistry and Life Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, Zhejiang 321004, China;

    2Tongcheng Teachers College, Tongcheng, Anhui 231400, China;

    3Zhejiang Qingliangfeng National Nature Reserve, Lin’an, Zhejiang 311321, China
  • Received:2012-02-10 Revised:2012-03-12 Online:2012-03-28 Published:2012-04-01
  • Contact: YANG Dong-Mei


Aims Trade-offs are fundamental to life-history strategies theory, and the leaf size and number trade-off is an important determinant of leaf-size evolution. It also has been proposed that this trade-off is dependent on habitat, but this is not well tested. Our objectives were to test whether the negative, isometric relationship between leaf size and number is conserved in different habitats and to explore the effects of altitude change on the relationship between the leaf size and number.
Methods Leaf area, mass and number and twig mass and stem mass of current-year twigs were measured for 61 deciduous broad-leaved woody species within three altitude-based habitats on Qingliang Mountain, southeastern China. The standardized major axis estimation method and the phylogenetically independent contrast method were used to examine the scaling relationship between leaf size (leaf mass and leaf area) and leafing intensity (twig mass and stem mass) within current-year twigs.
Important findings Significantly negative and isometric scaling relationships between leaf size and leafing intensity were found to be consistent in all three altitude-based habitats, regardless of whether leaf/twig size was expressed as area or mass. However, the intercepts of these relationships significantly decreased with increasing altitude, suggesting that habitats constrain the leaf size that can be supported by a given leafing intensity. The middle-attitude species usually had significant upper shifts along the common slopes relative to the high-altitude species. This suggested that the middle altitude is a more suitable habitat with high nutrients and moderate climate conditions for plants, compared to the high altitude with low temperatures and nutrients.

Ackerly DD, Donoghue MJ (1998) Leaf size, sapling allometry, and Corner's rules: Phylogeny and correlated evolution in maples (Acer). American Naturalist, 152, 767-791.
Ackerly DD, Reich PB (1999) Convergence and correlations among leaf size and function in seed plants: a comparative test using independent contrast. American Journal of Botany, 86, 1272-1281.
Barthelemy D, Caraglio Y. (2007) Plant architecture: A dynamic, multilevel and comprehensive approach to plant form, structure and ontogeny. Annuals of Botany, 99, 375–407.
Bell AD. (1993). Plant Form: An Illustrated Guide to Flowering Plant Morphology. Oxford University Press, New York.
Bond WJ, Midgley J (1988) Allometry and sexual differences in leaf size. American Naturalist, 131, 901-910.
Bonsall MB, Jansen VAA, Hassell MP (2004) Life history trade-offs assemble ecological guilds. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 306, 111-114.
Bonser SP, Aarssen LW (1996) Meristem allocation: a new classification theory for adaptive strategies in herbaceous plants. Oikos, 77, 347-352
Brouat C, Gibernau M, Amsellem L, McKey D (1998) Corner's rules revisited: ontogenetic and interspecific patterns in leaf-stem allometry. New Phytologist, 139, 459-470.
Brouat C, Gibernau M, Amsellem L, McKey D (1998) Corner's rules revisited: ontogenetic and interspecific patterns in leaf-stem allometry. New Phytologist, 139, 459-470.
Cavender-Bares J, Holbrook NM. (2001). Hydraulic properties and freezing-induced xylem cavitation in evergreen and deciduous oaks with contrasting habitats. Plant, Cell and Environment, 24, 1243–1256.
Chapin FS. (1980). The mineral nutrition of wild plants. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 11, 233–260.
Cornelissen JHC (1999) A triangular relationship between leaf size and seed size among woody species: allometry, ontogeny, ecology and taxonomy. Oecologia, 118, 248-255.
Corner E (1949) The durian theory or the origin of the modern tree. Annals of Botany, 13, 367-414.
Dombroskie SL, Aarssen LW. (2010). Within-genus size distributions in angiosperms: Small is better. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 12, 283–293.
Falster DS, Westoby M (2003) Leaf size and angle vary widely across species: what consequences for light interception? New Phytologist, 158, 509-525.
Field C, Mooney HA. (1986). The photosynthesis-nitrogen relationship in wild plants. In: On the Economy of Plant form and Function (ed.Givnish TJ), pp.25–55. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Givnish TJ (1978) On the adaptive significance of leaf height in forest herbs, with particular reference to tropical trees. Tropical trees as living systems, PP 351–380.Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Givnish TJ. (1978). Ecological aspects of plant morphology: Leaf form in relation to environment. Acta Biotheoretica, 27, 83-142.
Givnish TJ (1979) On the adaptive significance of leaf form. In: Topics in plant population biology.(eds Solbrig OT, Jain S, Johnson GB, Raven PH), pp. 375-407. Columbia University Press, New York
Givnish TJ. 1984. Leaf and canopy adaptations in tropical forests. In: Physiological Ecology of Plants of the Wet Tropics.(eds Medina E, Mooney HA, Vazquez-Yanez C), pp. 51-84. Junk Press, Hague.
Gleason HA, Cronquist A. (1991) Manual of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx.
Heuret P, Meredieu C, Coudurier T, Courdier F, Barthelemy D. (2006) Ontogenetic trends in the morphological features of main stem annual shoots of Pinus pinaster (Pinaceae). American Journal of Botany, 93, 1577–1587.
King DA (1998) Influence of leaf size on tree architecture: first branch height and crown dimensions in tropical rain forest trees. Trees-Structure and Function, 12, 438-445.
Kleiman D, Aarssen LW (2007) The leaf size/number trade-off in trees. Journal of Ecology, 95, 376-382.
Leishman M.R. (2001) Does the seed size/number trade-off model determine plant community structure? An assessment of the model mechanisms and their generality. Oikos, 93, 294–302.
Mcculloh KA, Sperry JS. (2005). Patterns in hydraulic architecture and their implications for transport efficiency. Tree Physiology, 25, 257–267.
McDonald PG, Fonseca CR, Overton JM, Westoby M (2003) Leaf-size divergence along rainfall and soil-nutrient gradients: is the method of size reduction common among clades? Functional Ecology, 17, 50-57.
Milla R. (2009). The leafing intensity premium hypothesis tested across clades, growth forms and altitudes. Journal of Ecology, 97, 972–983.
Molles MC, Cahill JF. (1999) Ecology: Concepts and Applications. pp.509 McGraw-Hill Dubuque, New York.
Moles AT, Westoby M (2000) Do small leaves expand faster than large leaves, and do shorter expansion times reduce herbivore damage? Oikos, 90, 517-524.
Niinemets U, Portsmuth A, Tobias M (2006) Leaf size modifies support biomass distribution among stems, petioles and mid-ribs in temperate plants. New Phytologist, 171, 91-104.
Niklas KJ (1988) The role of phyllotatic pattern as a “developmental constraint” on the interception of light by leaf surfaces. Evolution, 42, 1-16.
Niklas KJ, Cobb ED, Niinemets U, Reich PB, Sellin A, Shipley B, Wright IJ. (2007). “Diminishing returns” in the scaling of functional leaf traits across and within species groups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 8891-8896.
Niklas KJ, Enquist BJ (2002) Canonical rules for plant organ biomass partitioning and annual allocation. American Journal of Botany, 89, 812-819.
Ogawa K (2008) The leaf mass/number trade-off of Kleiman and Aarssen implies constancy of leaf biomass, its density and carbon uptake in forest stands: scaling up from shoot to stand level. Journal of Ecology, 96, 188-191.
Parkhurst DF, Loucks OL (1972) Optimal leaf size in relation to environment. The Journal of Ecology, 60, 505-537.
Pickup M, Westoby M, Basden A (2005) Dry mass costs of deploying leaf area in relation to leaf size. Functional Ecology, 19, 88-97.
Poorter HS, Pepin S, Rijkers T, DeJong Y, Evans JR, K?rner C. (2006). Construction costs, chemical composition and payback time of high- and low-irradiance leaves. Journal of Experimental Botany, 57, 355-371.
Preston KA, Ackerly DD (2003) Hydraulic architecture and the evolution of shoot allometry in contrasting climates. American Journal of Botany, 90, 1502–1512.
Qian H(钱宏), Wang SL(汪思龙). (1988) Major forest vegetation types and their distributions in Qingliang Mountain Natural Reserve of Jixi country. Journal of Ecology (生态学杂志), 7, 32-36.(in Chinese with English abstract)
Reich PB, Ellsworth DS, Walters MB, Vose JM, Gresham C, Volin C, Bowman WD (1999). Generality of leaf trait relationships: a test across six biomes. Ecology, 80, 1955-1969.
Reich PB, Walters MB, Ellsworth DS. (1992). Leaf life span in relation to leaf, plant, and stand characteristics among diverse ecosystems. Ecological Monographs, 62, 365–392.
Shao XP (邵小平) (2011) Vegetation types and vertical distribution zones spectrum analysis of Qingliang Mountain Natural Reserve in Anhui. Anhui Agricultural Science Bulletin (安徽农学通报), 17, 55-56. (in Chinese with English abstract).
Song CS(宋朝枢) (1997) Scientific survey of the Qingliang Mountain Natural Reserve in Zhejiang (清凉峰自然保护区考察集). China Forestry Press, Beijing. (in Chinese)
Sun SC, Jin DM, Shi PL. (2006). The leaf size-twig size spectrum of temperate woody species along an altitudinal gradient: An invariant allometric scaling relationship. Annals of Botany, 97, 97–107.
Tao, LI, Deng JM, Wang GX, Cheng DL, Ze-Long YU. (2009). Isometric scaling relationship between leaf number and size within current-year shoots of woody species across contrasting habitats. Polish Journal of Ecology, 57, 659-667.
Walter A, Schurr U. (2005) Dynamics of leaf and root growth: endogenous control versus environmental impact. Annuals of Botany, 95, 891–900.
Warton DI, Wright IJ, Falster DS, (2006) Bivariate line-fitting methods for allometry. Biological Reviews, 81, 259-291.
Watson MA, Casper BB (1984) Morphogenetic constraints on patterns of carbon distribution in plants. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 15, 233-258.
Westoby M, Falster DS, Moles AT, Vesk PA, Wright IJ (2002) Plant ecological strategies: Some leading dimensions of variation between species. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 33, 125-159.
Westoby M, Wright IJ (2003) The leaf size-twig size spectrum and its relationship to other important spectra of variation among species. Oecologia, 135, 621-628.
Whitman T, Aarssen LW. (2010). The leaf size/number trade-off in herbaceous angiosperms. Journal of Plant Ecology, 3, 49–58.
Woodward FI. (1987) Climate and plant distribution, pp, 174. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Woodward FI, Lomas MR, Kelly CK. (2004) Global climate and the distribution of plant biomes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 359, 1465-1476.
Wright IJ, Ackerly DD, Bongers F, Harms KE, Ibarra-Manriquez G, Martinez-Ramos M, Mazer SJ, Muller-Landau HC, Paz H, Pitman NCA, Poorter L, Silman MR, Vriesendorp CF, Webb CO, Westoby M, Wright SJ. (2007) Relationships among key dimensions of plant trait variation in seven Neotropical forests. Annals of Botany, 99, 1003-1015.
Wright IJ, Westoby M, Reich PB (2002) Convergence towards higher leaf mass per area in dry and nutrient-poor habitats has different consequences for leaf life span. Journal of Ecology, 90, 534-543.
Wright IJ, Reich PB, Westoby M, Ackerly DD, Baruch Z, Bongers F, Cavender-Bares J, Chapin T, Cornelissen JHC, Diemer M, Flexas J, Garnier E, Groom PK, Gulias J, Hikosaka K, Lamont BB, Lee T, Lee W, Lusk C, Midgley JJ, Navas ML, Niinemets U, Oleksyn J, Osada N, Poorter H, Poot P, Prior L, Pyankov VI, Roumet C, Thomas SC, Tjoelker MG, Veneklaas EJ, Villar R. (2004). The worldwide leaf economics spectrum. Nature, 428, 821-827.
Yagi T (2004) Within-tree variations in shoot differentiation patterns of 10 tall tree species in a Japanese cool-temperate forest. Canadian Journal of Botany-Revue Canadienne De Botanique, 82, 228-243.
Yagi T. (2006) Relationships between shoot size and branching patterns in 10 broad-leaved tall tree species in a Japanese cool-temperate forest. Canadian Journal of Botany, 84, 1894–1907.
Yagi T, Kikuzawa K. (1999) Paterns in size-related variations in current-year shoot structure in eight deciduous tree species. Journal of Plant Research, 112, 343–352.
Yang DM, Li GY, Sun SC. (2008). The generality of leaf size versus number trade-off in temperate woody species. Annuals of Botany, 102, 623–629.
No related articles found!
Full text



[1] Hu Shi-yi. Lipoid Bodies in Plant Tissues[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(04): 49 -51 .
[2] CHENG Hong-Yan. Introduction of State Key Laboratory of Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1998, 15(04): 78 .
[3] Liu Dong-zhuo and Li Lan. The Karyotype Analysis of Solanum pseudocapsicum[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1992, 9(03): 50 .
[4] WANG Bao-Shan;LI De-Quan;ZHAO Shi-Jie;MENG Qing-Wei and ZOU Qi. Effects of Iso-osmotic NaCl and KCl Stress on Growth and Gas Exchange of Sorghum Seedlings[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1999, 16(04): 449 -453 .
[5] LI Yao-Dong WEI Yu-Ning XU Ben-Mei. Study on the ABA Content and SOD Activity in Ancient Lotus and Modern Lotus Seeds[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2000, 17(05): 439 -442 .
[6] LI Zhong-Kui HU Hong-Jun LI Ye-Guang. Advances in Molecular Phylogenetic Relationship of Volvocales[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2002, 19(04): 419 -424 .
[7] WANG Ting SU Ying-Juan ZHU Jian-Ming HUANG Chao LI Xue-Yan. PCR_RFLP Analysis of rbc L Genes in Taxaceae and Related Taxa[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2001, 18(06): 714 -721 .
[8] . [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(专辑): 51 .
[9] Dong Shu-ting, Hu Chang-hao, Yue Shou-song, Wang Qun-ying, Gao Rong-qi, Pan Zi-long. The Characteristics of Canopy Photosynthesis of Summer Corn (Zea mays) and its Relation with Canopy Structure and Ecological Conditions[J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 1992, 16(4): 372 -378 .