Main content area

Diachronic adjustments of functional traits scaling relationships to track environmental changes: revisiting Cistus species leaf cohort classification

Puglielli, Giacomo, Varone, Laura, Gratani, Loretta
Flora 2019 v.254 pp. 173-180
Cistus, carbon dioxide fixation, climatic factors, dry matter content, growing season, leaves, photosynthesis, summer, temperature, winter
Leaf functional traits and their relationships can differ between leaf flushes, particularly for species characterized by an extended growing season such as Mediterranean ones. Among them, Cistus spp. are generally reported to display two different leaf cohorts (i.e. summer and winter leaves) during the same growing season. We tested the generality of such leaf cohort classification by analyzing the diachronic adjustments of relationships between different leaf functional traits in 3 Cistus spp. Traits included were: leaf mass per area (LMA), leaf thickness (LT), leaf dry matter content (LDMC) and net photosynthesis on a mass basis (Am). The slopes of the relationships between morphological traits were then regressed against climate variables. The slopes were also regressed against leaf production rate (LPR) and the scores of the positioning as Competitors (%C), Stress tolerators (%S) and Ruderals (%R) in the tertiary CSR scheme.The different leaf flushes reshaped the well-known trait covariation patterns thus reflecting shifts in leaf-level resource-acquisition and -use strategies. This was achieved through an opposite response of the relationships LMA–LT and LMA–LDMC to temperature changes. In fact, the relationship LMA–LT was better modulated in leaves produced at different temperatures, while the LMA–LDMC one was possibly constrained due to the tighter negative relationship LDMC–Am (i.e. higher costs in terms of carbon assimilation). Accordingly, changes in LMA–LDMC coordination were significantly related to %C.Our results provide an evidence that while Cistus spp. leaf cohort classification generally holds, it does not necessarily capture the entire seasonal spectrum of traits covariation. We propose to move forward from the generally accepted winter–summer leaf classification shown in literature providing a new framework that can better describe Cistus species potential response to environmental changes.