Branch architecture, leaf photosynthetic traits, and leaf demography were investigated in saplings of two woody species, Homolanthus caloneurus and Macaranga rostulata, co-occurring in the understory of a tropical mountain forest. M. rostulata saplings have cylindrical crowns, whereas H. caloneurus saplings have flat crowns. Saplings of the two species were found not to differ in area-based photosynthetic traits and in average light conditions in the understory of the studied site, but they do differ in internode length, leaf emergence rate, leaf lifespan, and total leaf area. Displayed leaf area of H. caloneurus saplings, which have the more rapid leaf emergence, was smaller than that of M. rostulata saplings, which have a longer leaf lifespan and larger total leaf area, although M. rostulata saplings showed a higher degree of leaf overlap. Short leaf lifespan and consequent small total leaf area would be linked to leaf overlap avoidance in the densely packed flat H. caloneurus crown. In contrast, M. rostulata saplings maintained a large total leaf area by producing leaves with a long leaf lifespan. In these understory saplings with a different crown architecture, we observed two contrasting adaptation strategies to shade which are achieved by adjusting a suite of morphological and leaf demographic characters. Each understory species has a suite of morphological traits and leaf demography specific to its architecture, thus attaining leaf overlap avoidance or large total leaf area.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science