How Plant Size Influences Specific Leaf Area in Six Neotropical Palms

Published: 2 July 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/pwpb2ypk2j.1
Gerardo Avalos


Database of 16 functional traits relating palm size with variation in SLA in 6 understory and canopy palms. Palm size showed a negative relationship with SLA. The data is analyzed within the context of the Leaf Economics Spectrum and the Diminising Returns Hypothesis.


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Data collection occurred at three locations in Costa Rica: the Manú Biological Station in Guápiles, the EARTH Forest Reserve in Guácimo, Limón, and Tirimbina Biological Reserve in Heredia. Data were collected on 236 individual palms from six species: the canopy palms Iriartea deltoidea (15 individuals), Euterpe precatoria (45 individuals), and Socratea exorrhiza (112 individuals), and understory palms Prestoea decurrens (22 individuals), Chamaedorea tepejilote (29 individuals), and Asterogyne martiana (12 individuals). Specific Leaf Area (SLA) was measured by collecting 10 cm² leaf samples, using a telescopic pruner or slingshot for taller palms. Samples were photographed over graph paper and analyzed with ImageJ. Fresh and dry weights were measured, with dry weight obtained after drying at 50°C for 24 hours. SLA was expressed in cm² g⁻¹. Carbon content was calculated using allometric equations from Avalos et al. (2022a). Leaf thickness was measured with an Ubante micrometer on fresh samples, except for E. precatoria and S. exorrhiza, while Leaf Water Content (LWC) was calculated as the dry weight divided by fresh weight. Ordinary least squares regressions assessed SLA variation with palm size (height, sequestered carbon, leaf area). Natural logarithmic transformations were corrected for scale differences and lack of normality. ANCOVA analyses used species as a continuous variable with covariates (sequestered carbon, stem height, number of fronds, leaf thickness, and LWC) to determine effects on SLA. All statistical analyses were conducted using R software.


Universidad de Costa Rica


Ecology, Plant Physiology, Functional Ecology