Data from: Increase in light interception cost and metabolic mass component of leaves are coupled for efficient resource use in the high altitude vegetation
Thakur, Dinesh; Rathore, Nikita; Chawla, Amit (2018), Data from: Increase in light interception cost and metabolic mass component of leaves are coupled for efficient resource use in the high altitude vegetation, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hf2746d
Global syntheses of leaf trait scaling relationships report an increase in light interception costs or ‘diminishing returns’ with increase in leaf area. However, variation in light interception costs across ecological gradients and plant strategies to cope up with these costs are not adequately understood. We analyzed leaf area (A) - leaf dry mass (M), leaf water mass (W) - M and W - A scaling relationships in plants occurring in a high altitude region of western Himalaya across environmental gradients to understand changes in light interception cost and metabolic mass component. M represents light interception cost, whereas, W is considered as a proxy of metabolic mass component for liquid phase being the ultimate source of metabolic activity. Trait values were measured from 9278 leaves belonging to 136 dominant species occurring at different sites, slope aspects, elevations and habitat types. Overall, light interception cost increased with increasing A (scaling exponent (α) <1 in A-M relationship) and metabolic mass component increased disproportionately high with increasing M and A. We found significant differences in scaling exponents of leaf trait relationship between sites, elevations, slope aspects and habitat types, indicating that increase in light interception cost was more evident at higher elevations, southern slopes and open habitats. Further, with increase in light interception cost, metabolic mass component also increased (α>1 in W-M and W-A relationships). The changes in scaling exponents of various leaf trait relationships across ecological gradients indicated that vegetation of different regions have differences in light interception cost and metabolic mass component. Moreover, increasing light interception cost (increase in mechanical and hydraulic tissues) with increasing A and increasing metabolic mass (leaf thickness) with increasing A and M are favored in high altitude vegetation. This could be a key strategy of high altitude plants for efficient resource capture and use in harsh environments.