We investigated the sapling leaf display in the shade among trees of various leaf lifespans co-occurring under the canopy of a warm-temperate conifer plantation. We measured leaf-area ratio (aLAR) and morphological traits of saplings of evergreen broadleaved tree species and a deciduous tree species. Although we found large interspecific and intraspecific differences in aLAR even among saplings of similar size in the homogeneous light environment, we did not find a consistent trend in aLAR with leaf lifespan among the species. While deciduous trees annually produced a large leaf area, some evergreen broadleaved trees retained their leaves across years and had aLAR values as high as those of deciduous trees. Among leaf-level, shoot-level, and individual-level morphological traits, aLAR was positively correlated with current-year shoots mass per aboveground biomass in deciduous trees, and with the area of old leaves per aboveground mass in evergreen broadleaved trees. Thus, tree-to-tree variation in the degrees of annual shoot production and the accumulation of old leaves were responsible for the interspecific and intraspecific variations in aLAR.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes