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Nature versus nurture in the leaf morphology of Southern Beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii (Nothofagaceae)


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Hovenden, MJ ORCID: 0000-0001-7208-9700 and Vander Schoor, JK ORCID: 0000-0002-3813-5678 2003 , 'Nature versus nurture in the leaf morphology of Southern Beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii (Nothofagaceae)' , New Phytologist, vol. 161, no. 2 , pp. 585-594 , doi: 10.1046/j.1469-8137.2003.00931.x.

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Leaf morphology varies predictably with altitude and leaf morphological features have been used to estimate average temperatures from fossil leaves. The altitude-leaf morphology relationship is confounded by the two processes of acclimation and adaptation, which reflect environmental and genetic influences respectively.
Here we describe the relationship between altitude and leaf morphology for Southern Beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii. Cuttings from several trees from each of four altitudes were grown in a common-glasshouse experiment and leaf morphology related to both genotype and altitude of origin.
Genotype had a significant impact on leaf morphology, but in the field there was also a significant, overriding effect of altitude. This altitude effect disappeared in glasshouse-grown plants for all morphological variables other than leaf thickness and specific leaf area.
These results show that while leaf length, width and area are partially controlled by genetic factors, these variables are plastic and respond to environmental influences associated with a particular altitude. Thus, altitudinal trends in leaf size in N. cunninghamii are unlikely to be the result of adaptation.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Hovenden, MJ and Vander Schoor, JK
Keywords: irradiance, altitude, Nothofagus cunninghamii, leaf morphology, stomatal density, stomatal index, palaeoecology
Journal or Publication Title: New Phytologist
ISSN: 0028-646X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1046/j.1469-8137.2003.00931.x
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