Data from: Evolution of the leaf economics spectrum in herbs: evidence from environmental divergences in leaf physiology across Helianthus (Asteraceae)
Mason, Chase M.; Donovan, Lisa Alayne (2015), Data from: Evolution of the leaf economics spectrum in herbs: evidence from environmental divergences in leaf physiology across Helianthus (Asteraceae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.110s9
The leaf economics spectrum (LES) describes a major axis of plant functional trait variation worldwide, defining suites of leaf traits aligned with resource-acquisitive to resource-conservative ecological strategies. The LES has been interpreted to arise from leaf-level trade-offs among ecophysiological traits common to all plants. However, it has been suggested that the defining leaf-level trade-offs of the LES may not hold within specific functional groups (e.g., herbs) nor within many groups of closely-related species, which challenges the usefulness of the LES paradigm across evolutionary scales. Here we examine the evolution of the LES across 28 species of the diverse herbaceous genus Helianthus (the sunflowers), which occupies a wide range of habitats and climate variation across North America. Using a phylogenetic comparative approach, we find repeated evolution of more resource-acquisitive LES strategies in cooler, drier, and more fertile environments. We also find macroevolutionary correlations among LES traits that recapitulate aspects of the global LES, but with one major difference: leaf mass per area is uncorrelated with leaf lifespan. This indicates that whole-plant processes likely drive variation in leaf lifespan across Helianthus, rather than leaf-level trade-offs. These results suggest that LES patterns do not reflect universal physiological trade-offs at small evolutionary scales.