Latitudinal effects on crown shape evolution

Lindh, M., Falster, D.S., Zhang, L., Dieckmann, U. ORCID:, & Brännström, Å. (2018). Latitudinal effects on crown shape evolution. Ecology and Evolution 8 (16) 8149-8158. 10.1002/ece3.4275.

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Large variations in crown shape are observed across the globe, from plants with wide and deep crowns to those with leaves clustered at the top. While there have been advances in the large‐scale monitoring of forests, little is known about factors driving variations in crown shape with environmental conditions. Previous theoretical research suggests a gradient in crown shape with latitude, due to the effects of sun angle. Yet, it remains unclear whether such changes are also predicted under competition. Using a size‐structured forest‐growth model that incorporates self‐shading from plants and competitive shading from their neighbors, we investigate how changes in site productivity and sun angle shape crown evolution. We consider evolution in two traits describing the top‐heaviness and width‐to‐height ratio of crowns, shaped by trade‐offs reflecting the costs and benefits of alternative architectures. In top‐heavy trees, most of the leaves are at the top half of the trunk. We show that, contrary to common belief, the angle of sun beams per se has only a weak influence on crown shapes, except at low site productivity. By contrast, reduced site productivity has a strong effect, with trees growing in less productive sites keeping their leaves closer to the ground. The crown width‐to‐height ratio is generally higher at a lower site productivity, but this trait is not strongly influenced by any environmental factor. This theoretical analysis brings into question established beliefs about the effects of latitude on crown shapes. By introducing geometry‐related growth constraints caused by shading from both the surrounding forest and the tree on itself, and costs for constructing and maintaining a three‐dimensional crown, our analysis suggests crown shapes may vary with latitude, mostly via effects on overall site productivity, and less because of the angle of the sun.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adaptive dynamics, Crown, Evolution, Latitude, Productivity, Shape, Sun angle, Tree
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2018 06:07
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:30

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