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On the vegetative biomass partitioning of seed plant leaves, stems, and roots

On the vegetative biomass partitioning of seed plant leaves, stems, and roots

American Naturalist 159(5): 482-497

A central goal of comparative life-history theory is to derive the general rules governing growth, metabolic allocation, and biomass partitioning. Here, we use allometric theory to predict the relationships among annual leaf, stem, and root growth rates (GL, GS, and GR, respectively) across a broad spectrum of seed plant species. Our model predicts isometric scaling relationships among all three organ growth rates: GL is proportional to GS is proportional to GR. It also provides a conceptual basis for understanding the differences in the absolute amounts of biomass allocated to construct the three organ types. Analyses of a large compendium of biomass production rates across diverse seed plant species provide strong statistical support for the predictions of the theory and indicate that reproductive investments may scale isometrically with respect to vegetative organ growth rates. The general rules governing biomass allocation as indexed by the scaling exponents for organ growth rates are remarkably indifferent to plant size and taxonomic affiliation. However, the allometric "constants" for these relationships differ numerically as a function of phenotypic features and local environmental conditions. Nonetheless, at the level of both inter- and intraspecific comparisons, the same proportional biomass allocation pattern holds across extant seed plant species.

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Accession: 003869786

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 18707431

DOI: 10.1086/339459

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