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Citation. Niklas, K.J.; Cobb, E.D.; Niinemets, U.; Reich, P.B.; Sellin, A.; Shipley, B.; Wright, I.J. 2007. Diminishing returns in function with increasing leaf mass across and within six species-groups. Proc Nat Acad Sci 104:8891-8896.

Abstract. More than 5,000 measurements from 1,943 plant species were used to explore the scaling relationships among the foliar surface area and the dry, water, and nitrogen/phosphorus mass of mature individual leaves. Although they differed statistically, the exponents for the relationships among these variables were numerically similar among six species groups (ferns, graminoids, forbs, shrubs, trees, and vines) and within 19 individual species. In general, at least one among the many scaling exponents was <1.0, such that increases in one or more features influencing foliar function (e.g., surface area or living leaf mass) failed to keep pace with increases in mature leaf size. Thus, a general set of scaling relationships exists that negatively affects increases in leaf size. We argue that
this set reflects a fundamental property of all plants and helps to explain why annual growth fails to keep pace with increases in total body mass across species.


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