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Title: Relative humidity has dramatic impacts on leaf morphology but little effect on stomatal index or density in Nothofagus cunninghamii (Nothofagaceae)
Contributor(s): Hovenden, Mark J (author); Vander Schoor, Jacqueline K (author); Osanai, Yui  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2012
Early Online Version: 2012-11-23
DOI: 10.1071/BT12110
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Abstract: Reconstructing past environmental conditions using proxies based on fossil and subfossil leaves is difficult because leaf form is influenced by many interacting environmental factors such as temperature, CO₂ concentration, light, soil water availability and, potentially, atmospheric relative humidity (RH). We used a species important for palaeo-environmental reconstruction, the southern beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii, to test for the effects of a 50% difference in RH on leaf morphology and epidermal anatomy in a glasshouse experiment. Leaf size, shape and thickness were all strongly affected by RH with leaves from high humidity being larger, narrower and thicker than those from low humidity regardless of plant accession. RH impacts on epidermal characters were generally slight and dependent upon accession. In particular, epidermal cell size was remarkably consistent across accessions and RH levels. Thus, gross leaf morphology of N. cunninghamii was sensitive to changes in RH but, on average, epidermal characters were not. Thus, palaeoenvironmental signals from the epidermis of this species are unlikely to be affected by variation in RH, provided sufficient numbers of leaves are investigated. Gross leaf morphology, however, was strongly related to RH and should not be used for palaeo-climatic reconstruction if changes in RH are likely.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Journal of Botany, 60(8), p. 700-706
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 0067-1924
Field of Research (FOR): 060303 Biological Adaptation
060705 Plant Physiology
060208 Terrestrial Ecology
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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