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Light leaf age and leaf nitrogen concentration in a tropical vine

Journal Article

Ackerly DD

1992

Oecologia

89

596-600

Tropical vines in the Araceae family commonly exhibit alternating periods of upward and downward growth decoupling the usual relationship between decreasing light environment with increasing age among the leaves on a shoot. In this study I examined patterns of light leaf specific mass and leaf nitrogen concentration in relation to leaf position a measure of developmental age in field collected shoots of Syngonium podophyllum. These data were analyzed to test the hypothesis that nitrogen allocation parallels within-shoot gradients of light availability regardless of the relationship between light and leaf age. I found that leaf nitrogen concentration on a mass basis was weakly correlated with leaf level light environment. However leaf specific mass and consequently nitrogen per unit leaf area were positively correlated with gradients of light within the shoot and either increased or decreased with leaf age providing support for the hypothesis that nitrogen allocation parallels gradients of light availability.

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The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.