Tree differences in primary and secondary growth drive convergent scaling in leaf area to sapwood area across Europe

Giai Petit*, Georg von Arx, Natasa Kiorapostolou, Silvia Lechthaler, Angela Luisa Prendin, Tommaso Anfodillo, Maria C. Caldeira, Hervé Cochard, Paul Copini, Alan Crivellaro, Sylvain Delzon, Roman Gebauer, Jožica Gričar, Leila Grönholm, Teemu Hölttä, Tuula Jyske, Martina Lavrič, Anna Lintunen, Raquel Lobo-do-Vale, Mikko PeltoniemiRichard L. Peters, Elisabeth M.R. Robert, Sílvia Roig Juan, Martin Senfeldr, Kathy Steppe, Josef Urban, Janne Van Camp, Frank Sterck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Trees scale leaf (AL) and xylem (AX) areas to couple leaf transpiration and carbon gain with xylem water transport. Some species are known to acclimate in AL: AX balance in response to climate conditions, but whether trees of different species acclimate in AL: AX in similar ways over their entire (continental) distributions is unknown. We analyzed the species and climate effects on the scaling of AL vs AX in branches of conifers (Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies) and broadleaved (Betula pendula, Populus tremula) sampled across a continental wide transect in Europe. Along the branch axis, AL and AX change in equal proportion (isometric scaling: b ˜ 1) as for trees. Branches of similar length converged in the scaling of AL vs AX with an exponent of b = 0.58 across European climates irrespective of species. Branches of slow-growing trees from Northern and Southern regions preferentially allocated into new leaf rather than xylem area, with older xylem rings contributing to maintaining total xylem conductivity. In conclusion, trees in contrasting climates adjust their functional balance between water transport and leaf transpiration by maintaining biomass allocation to leaves, and adjusting their growth rate and xylem production to maintain xylem conductance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1383-1392
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
Early online date14 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Allocation
  • Climate change
  • Functional balance
  • Leaf area
  • Plant architecture
  • Sapwood
  • Structural balance
  • Xylem

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Tree differences in primary and secondary growth drive convergent scaling in leaf area to sapwood area across Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this