Table_2_Response of Leaf Traits of Eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Broad-Leaved Woody Plants to Climatic Factors.XLSX
Plant ecologists have long been interested in quantifying how leaf traits vary with climate factors, but there is a paucity of knowledge on these relationships given a large number of the relevant leaf traits and climate factors to be considered. We examined the responses of 11 leaf traits (including leaf morphology, stomatal structure and chemical properties) to eight common climate factors for 340 eastern Qinghai-Tibetan woody species. We showed temperature as the strongest predictor of leaf size and shape, stomatal size and form, and leaf nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, implying the important role of local heat quantity in determining the variation in the cell- or organ-level leaf morphology and leaf biochemical properties. The effects of moisture-related climate factors (including precipitation and humidity) on leaf growth were mainly through variability in leaf traits (e.g., specific leaf area and stomatal density) related to plant water-use physiological processes. In contrast, sunshine hours affected mainly cell- and organ-level leaf size and shape, with plants developing small/narrow leaves and stomata to decrease leaf damage and water loss under prolonged solar radiation. Moreover, two sets of significant leaf trait-climate relationships, i.e., the leaf/stomata size traits co-varying with temperature, and the water use-related leaf traits co-varying with precipitation, were obtained when analyzing multi-trait relationships, suggesting these traits as good indicators of climate gradients. Our findings contributed evidence to enhance understanding of the regional patterns in leaf trait variation and its environmental determinants.