Ellipticalness index – a simple measure of the complexity of oval leaf shape

2022 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Ellipticalness index – a simple measure of the complexity of oval leaf shape​
Li, Y.; Quinn, B. K.; Niinemets, Ü.; Schrader, J.; Gielis, J.; Liu, M. & Shi, P.​ (2022) 
Pakistan Journal of Botany54(6).​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.30848/PJB2022-6(44) 

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Li, Yuping; Quinn, Brady K.; Niinemets, Ülo; Schrader, Julian; Gielis, Johan; Liu, Mengdi; Shi, Peijian
Plants have diverse leaf shapes that have evolved to adapt to the environments they have experienced over their evolutionary history. Leaf shape and leaf size can greatly influence the growth rate, competitive ability, and productivity of plants. However, researchers have long struggled to decide how to properly quantify the complexity of leaf shape. Prior studies recommended the leaf roundness index (RI = 4πA/P2) or dissection index (DI = √ ⁄), where P is leaf perimeter and A is leaf area. However, these two indices merely measure the extent of the deviation of leaf shape from a circle, which is usually invalid as leaves are seldom circular. In this study, we proposed a simple measure, named the ellipticalness index (EI), for quantifying the complexity of leaf shape based on the hypothesis that the shape of any oval leaf can be regarded as a variation from a standard ellipse. 2220 leaves from nine species of Magnoliaceae were sampled to check the validity of the EI. We also tested the validity of the Montgomery equation (ME), which assumes a proportional relationship between leaf area and the product of leaf length and width, because the EI actually comes from the proportionality coefficient of the ME. We also compared the ME with five other models of leaf area. The ME was found to be the best model for calculating leaf area based on consideration of the trade-off between model fit vs. complexity, which strongly supported the robustness of the EI for describing oval leaf shape. The new index can account for both leaf shape and size, and we conclude that it is a promising method for quantifying and comparing oval leaf shapes across species in future studies.
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Pakistan Journal of Botany 
Abteilung Biodiversität, Makroökologie und Biogeographie ; Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie 



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