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Variations in leaf functional traits among plant species grouped by growth and leaf types in Zhenjiang, China. 

Journal of forestry research,

Wang, C., Zhou, J., Xiao, H., Liu, J., & Wang, L. 

2017

Journal of forestry research,

28(2)

241-248

Leaf functional traits are adaptations that enable plants to live under various environmental conditions. This study aims to determine the differences in leaf functional traits among plants grouped by growth habit, leaf life span, leaf lifestyle, leaf form, and origin. Specific leaf area (SLA) of perennial or evergreen species was lower than that of annual or deciduous species because longer-lived leaves of perennial or evergreen species require more investment in structural integrity and/or defense against disturbances, especially with any resource constraint. SLA of large individuals was lower than that of small individ- uals. The low SLA in large individuals can improve their response to changing light and water conditions because increasing plant height is advantageous for light competi- tion, but it can also impose a cost in terms of structural support and water transport. Petioles of plants with com- pound leaves were significantly longer than those of simple leaves because branching is expensive in terms of gaining height. SLA of plants increased with increasing invasive- ness accordingly, and SLA of invasive plants was higher than that of their native congeners because invasive plants should invest more biomass on leaf growth rather than leaf structures per unit area to achieve a higher growth rate. Overall, variation in leaf functional traits among different groups may play an adaptive role in the successful survival of plants under diverse environments because leaf func- tional traits can lead to pronounced effects on leaf function, especially the acquisition and use of light. Plant species with different growth and leaf traits balance resource acquisition and leaf construction to minimize trade-offs and achieve fitness advantages in their natural habitat.

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