Ecology of leaf teeth: A multi-site analysis from an Australian subtropical rainforest

Dana L. Royer, Robert M. Kooyman, Stefan A. Little, Peter Wilf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Teeth are conspicuous features of many leaves. The percentage of species in a flora with toothed leaves varies inversely with temperature, but other ecological controls are less known. This gap is critical because leaf teeth may be influenced by water availability and growth potential and because fossil tooth characters are widely used to reconstruct paleoclimate. Here, we test whether ecological attributes related to disturbance, water availability, and growth strategy influence the distribution of toothed species at 227 sites from Australian subtropical rainforest. Both the percentage and abundance of toothed species decline continuously from riparian to ridge-top habitats in our most spatially resolved sample, a result not related to phylogenetic correlation of traits. Riparian lianas are generally untoothed and thus do not contribute to the trend, and there is little association between toothed riparian species and ecological attributes indicating early successional lifestyle and disturbance response. Instead, the pattern is best explained by differences in water availability. Toothed species' proportional richness declines with proximity to the coast, also a likely effect of water availability because salt stress causes physiological drought. Our study highlights water availability as an important factor impacting the distribution of toothed species across landscapes, with significance for paleoclimate reconstructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-750
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Volume96
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009

Fingerprint

Ecology
water availability
rainforest
rain forests
tooth
Tooth
teeth
ecology
Water
leaves
paleoclimate
water
disturbance
lianas
Droughts
Growth
lifestyle
salt stress
Ecosystem
Life Style

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

Cite this

Royer, Dana L. ; Kooyman, Robert M. ; Little, Stefan A. ; Wilf, Peter. / Ecology of leaf teeth : A multi-site analysis from an Australian subtropical rainforest. In: American journal of botany. 2009 ; Vol. 96, No. 4. pp. 738-750.
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Ecology of leaf teeth : A multi-site analysis from an Australian subtropical rainforest. / Royer, Dana L.; Kooyman, Robert M.; Little, Stefan A.; Wilf, Peter.

In: American journal of botany, Vol. 96, No. 4, 01.04.2009, p. 738-750.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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