|Title||Temporal and spatial patterns of specific leaf weight in successional northern hardwood tree species|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1986|
|Journal||American Journal of Botany|
Temporal and spatial patterns of specific leaf weight (SLW, g/m2) were determined for deciduous hardwood tree species in natural habitats in northern lower Michigan to evaluate the utility of SLW as an index of leaf photosynthetic capacity. No significant diurnal changes in SLW were found. Specific leaf weight decreased and then increased during leaf expansion in the spring. Most species, especially those located in the understory, then had relatively constant SLW for most of the growing season, followed by a decline in SLW during autumn. Specific leaf weight decreased exponentially down through the canopy with increasing cumulative leaf area index. Red oak (Quercus rubra), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (A. saccharum), and beech (Fagus grandifolia) generally had successively lower SLW, for leaves at any one level in the canopy. On a given site, comparisons between years and comparisons of leaves growing within 35 cm of each other showed that differences in SLW among species were not due solely to microenvironmental effects on SLW. Bigtooth aspen, red oak, and red maple on lower-fertility sites had lower SLW than the same species on higher-fertility sites. Maximum CO2 exchange rate, measured at light-saturation in ambient CO2 and leaf temperatures of 20 to 25 C, increased with SLW. Photosynthetic capacites of species ranked by SLW in a shaded habitat suggest that red oak, red maple, sugar maple, and beech are successively better adapted to shady conditions.