Contrasting foliar responses to drought in Quercus ilex and Phillyrea latifolia

R. Ogaya, J. Peñuelas

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    Leaf morphology, longevity, and demography were examined in Quercus ilex and Phillyrea latifolia growing in a holm oak forest in Prades mountains (northeast Spain). Four plots (10 × 15 m) of this forest were submitted to an experimental drought during three years (soil moisture was reduced about 15 %). Leaf area, thickness and leaf mass per area ratio (LMA) were measured in sun and shade leaves of both species. Leaf longevity, the mean number of current-year shoots produced per previous-year shoot (Sn/Sn-1), the mean number of current-year leaves per previous-year shoot (Ln/Sn-1), and the percentage of previous-year shoots that developed new ones were measured once a year, just after leaf flushing. LMA and leaf thickness increased since leaf unfolding except in summer periods, when stomatal closure imposed low photosynthetic rates and leaves consumed their reserves. LMA, leaf area, and leaf thickness were higher in Q. ilex than in P. latifolia, but leaf density was higher in the latter species. Drought reduced the leaf thickness and the LMA of both species ca. 2.5 %. Drought also increased leaf shedding up to ca. 20 % in Phillyrea latifolia and decreased it up to ca. 20 % in Q. ilex. In the later species, Sn/Sn-1 decreased by 32 %, Ln/Sn-1 by 41 %, percentage of shoots developed new ones by 26 %, and leaf area by 17 %. Thus the decrease of leaf number and area was stronger in the less drought-resistant Q. ilex, which, under increasingly drier conditions, might lose its current competitive advantage in these Mediterranean holm oak forests. © 2006 Institute of Experimental Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)373-382
    JournalBiologia Plantarum
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2006


    • Climate change
    • Leaf longevity
    • Leaf mass per area ratio
    • Mediterranean forest


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