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Data from: Inter- and intraspecific variation in leaf economics traits in wheat and maize

Cite this dataset

Martin, Adam R. et al. (2019). Data from: Inter- and intraspecific variation in leaf economics traits in wheat and maize [Dataset]. Dryad.


Leaf economics spectrum (LES) trait variation underpins multiple agroecological processes and many prominent crop yield models. While there are numerous independent studies assessing trait variation in crops, to date there have been no comprehensive assessments of intraspecific trait variation (ITV) in LES traits for wheat and maize: the world’s most widespread crops. Using trait databases and peer-reviewed literature, we compiled over 700 records of specific leaf area (SLA), maximum photosynthetic rates (Amax), and leaf nitrogen (N) concentrations, for wheat and maize. We evaluated intraspecific LES trait variation, and intraspecific trait-environment relationships. While wheat and maize occupy the upper 90th percentile of LES trait values observed across a global species pool, ITV ranged widely across the LES in wheat and maize. Fertilization treatments had strong impacts on leaf N, while plant developmental stage (here standardized as the number of days since planting) had strong impacts on Amax; days since planting, N fertilization, and irrigation all influenced SLA. When controlling for these factors, intraspecific responses to temperature and precipitation explained 39.4 and 43.7% of the variation in Amax and SLA, respectively, but only 5.4% of the variation in leaf N. Despite a long history of domestication in these species, ITV in wheat and maize among and within cultivars remains large. ITV is a critical consideration to refine regional- to global models of agroecosystem structure, function, and food security. Considerable opportunities and benefits exist for consolidating a crop trait database for a wider range of domesticated plant species.

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