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24 October 2022 Effects of Altitude and Leaf Age on Leaf Shape in an Alpine Shrub: The Relevance for the Leaf Area Estimation Model
Qing Li, Xiao He, Xueju Huang, Lin Zhang
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Nondestructive methods to estimate leaf area (LA) by leaf length (L) and/or width (W) are useful in plant physiology and ecology studies. However, both environmental and ontogenic factors may influence leaf size and/or shape, which may alter the coefficient of LA models. We carried an investigation along an altitudinal gradient in the Sergyemla Mountains, southeast Tibet. In August 2009, we selected nine sites at about every 50 m in altitude from 4,250 m to 4,640 m a.s.l. A total of 4,245 different leaf-aged Rhododendron aganniphum var. schizopeplum (a dominant overstory species) leaves were measured. Compared with the single dimensional models, the two-dimensional model encompassing both L and W (model 5) reflected higher R2 (0.98–0.99) and lower MSE (1.19–3.21) across different leaf age groups for each site, implying that such model could provide the best fit for LA estimation. Analysis of covariance further illustrated that two leaf dimensions model was irrespective of leaf age effects in eight out of the nine sites. Leaf shape (L:W ratio) varied between sites and tended to decrease at higher altitudes (4500–4640 m a.s.l.), leading to significant differences in coefficients of the two-dimension model between every two adjacent sites. For overstory species in alpine habitats, altitude rather than leaf age may affect leaf shape which alters the coefficients of LA estimation models. Since leaf shape of different species (overstory species versus understory ones) may show different responses to a certain environmental gradient, researchers must pay attention to the variation of leaf shape when estimating species-specific LA by measuring L and W, especially when leaves of the top overstory species were collected at different sites.

Qing Li, Xiao He, Xueju Huang, and Lin Zhang "Effects of Altitude and Leaf Age on Leaf Shape in an Alpine Shrub: The Relevance for the Leaf Area Estimation Model," Polish Journal of Ecology 70(1), 33-43, (24 October 2022).
Received: 1 April 2022; Published: 24 October 2022
Evergreen shrub
leaf length and width
Tibetan plateau
timberline ecotone
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