Investigating leaf trait coordination to inform species bioclimatic limits by Anjum Kaur Gujral

Anjum Kaur Gujral

SFSU | Chamberlain/Smelick

Through my master’s research I am investigating coordination in leaf traits, in order to elucidate relationships between plant growth and water-use strategies in the context of current and future climates within a species distribution range.

ABSTRACT

Plant traits shape plant function and are a result of a species evolutionary history and the environment. Plant functional traits are morphological, physiological, and reproductive traits that influence plant strategies for growth, survival, and reproduction. The evolution of photosynthesis is coupled with the evolution of leaf hydraulics, or water transport through a leaf, since water loss is an inevitable consequence of photosynthesis. My research aims to clarify coordination in traits that are indicative of both plant growth and water-use strategies. Functional traits that are correlated as a result of physiological trade-offs may represent meaningful syndromes or strategies of whole-plant function. Elucidating coordination in leaf traits is useful for not only explaining variability in whole-plant growth and water-use strategies, but also for understanding species adaptation to certain environments and in turn, species distribution ranges and species bioclimatic limits. Therefore, my research assesses species adaptation to local environments given coordination in leaf traits and determines species habitat suitability under future climate change scenarios based on trait-environment relationships.

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