Leaf size estimation based on leaf length, width and shape

2021 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Schrader J, Shi P, Royer D, Peppe D, Gallagher R, Li Y, et al. ​Leaf size estimation based on leaf length, width and shape​. ​​Annals of Botany. ​2021;. ​doi:10.1093/aob/mcab078. 

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Authors
Schrader, Julian; Shi, Peijian; Royer, Dana L; Peppe, Daniel J; Gallagher, Rachael V; Li, Yirong; Wang, Rong; Wright, Ian J
Abstract
Abstract Background and Aims Leaf size has considerable ecological relevance, making it desirable to obtain leaf size estimations for as many species worldwide as possible. Current global databases, such as TRY, contain leaf size data for approximately 30,000 species, which is only ca. 8% of known species worldwide. Yet, taxonomic descriptions exist for the large majority of the remainder. Here we propose a simple method to exploit information on leaf length, width and shape from species descriptions to robustly estimate leaf areas, thus closing this considerable knowledge gap for this important plant functional trait. Methods Using a global dataset of all major leaf shapes measured on 3125 leaves from 780 taxa, we quantified scaling functions that estimate leaf size as product of leaf length, width and a leaf shape-specific correction factor. We validated our method by comparing leaf size estimates with those obtained from image recognition software and compared our approach with the widely-used correction factor of 2/3. Key Results Correction factors ranged from 0.39 for highly dissected, lobed leaves to 0.79 for oblate leaves. Leaf size estimation using leaf shape-specific correction factors was more accurate and precise than estimates obtained from the correction factor of 2/3. Conclusion Our method presents a tractable solution to accurately estimate leaf size when only information on leaf length, width and shape is available or when labour and time constraints prevent usage of image recognition software. We see promise in applying our method to data from species descriptions (including from fossils), databases, field work and on herbarium vouchers, especially when non-destructive in-situ measurements are needed.
Abstract Background and Aims Leaf size has considerable ecological relevance, making it desirable to obtain leaf size estimations for as many species worldwide as possible. Current global databases, such as TRY, contain leaf size data for approximately 30,000 species, which is only ca. 8% of known species worldwide. Yet, taxonomic descriptions exist for the large majority of the remainder. Here we propose a simple method to exploit information on leaf length, width and shape from species descriptions to robustly estimate leaf areas, thus closing this considerable knowledge gap for this important plant functional trait. Methods Using a global dataset of all major leaf shapes measured on 3125 leaves from 780 taxa, we quantified scaling functions that estimate leaf size as product of leaf length, width and a leaf shape-specific correction factor. We validated our method by comparing leaf size estimates with those obtained from image recognition software and compared our approach with the widely-used correction factor of 2/3. Key Results Correction factors ranged from 0.39 for highly dissected, lobed leaves to 0.79 for oblate leaves. Leaf size estimation using leaf shape-specific correction factors was more accurate and precise than estimates obtained from the correction factor of 2/3. Conclusion Our method presents a tractable solution to accurately estimate leaf size when only information on leaf length, width and shape is available or when labour and time constraints prevent usage of image recognition software. We see promise in applying our method to data from species descriptions (including from fossils), databases, field work and on herbarium vouchers, especially when non-destructive in-situ measurements are needed.
Issue Date
2021
Journal
Annals of Botany 
Organization
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Biodiversität, Makroökologie und Biogeographie 
ISSN
0305-7364
eISSN
1095-8290
Language
English

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