Creese, Chris , Sack, Lawren .
The coordination of structure and function in 15 fern species from Southern California.
Ferns exhibit extraordinary diversity in size and leaf form and range widely across environments from semi-deserts to rainforests. Ferns are therefore an excellent system to test hypotheses of trait coordination and habitat association. We quantified >100 morphological, anatomical and physiological plant and leaf traits relating to performance for 15 terrestrial fern species across gradients in moisture, irradiance, temperature, and altitude in the Santa Monica mountains. We tested key hypotheses of trait-trait and trait-environment relationships generated by previous studies on angiosperms. Our hypotheses included the scaling of fronds and frond components with plant size, applicability of the leaf economics spectrum to ferns, diminishing returns of leaf function with increased size, and associations of form and physiology with climate. We observed great variation in plant size (20-fold), photosynthetic gas exchange, leaf hydraulic conductance, nutrient and isotopic composition, leaf form, venation architecture and stomatal traits. Support for many of the hypotheses indicates that although ferns are a distinct lineage, they show many of the same relationships of form to function as angiosperms. This study showcases the benefits of an integrated multi-trait approach to investigate the causes and consequences of plant trait variation. We further clarify the mechanistic and ecological implications of such strong variation among ferns apparent even within one small geographic region.
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1 - University of California Los Angeles, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 621 Charles E. Young Drive South, Box 951606, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1606, United States
2 - University of California Los Angeles, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 621 Charles E. Young Drive South, Box 951606, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1606, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Location: 551B/Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Time: 2:00 PM