Leaf size

Givnish and Vermelj (1976) observed that leaves optimize their size (thus mass) for the conditions. This may be interpreted as meaning that they maximize their free-energy content. The larger the leaves the higher their respiration and evapotranspiration, but the more solar radiation they can capture. Deciduous forests in moist climates have a LAI of ~6 m2/m2 (see also Section 2.4). Such an index can be predicted from the hypothesis of highest possible leaf size, resulting from the tradeoff between having leaves of a given size versus maintaining leaves of a given size (Givnish and Vermelj, 1976). Size of leaves in a given environment depends on the solar radiation and humidity regime, and while, for example, sun and shade leaves on the same plant would not have equal exergy contents, in a general way leaf size and LAI relationships are consistent with the hypothesis of maximum exergy storage.

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