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      Worldwide correlations of mechanical properties and green wood density.

      American journal of botany

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          Abstract

          • The density of wood is highly correlated with the ability of stems and roots to resist bending or twisting, which is important for evaluating the mechanical behavior of trees. It also provides a measure of carbon storage, which is an important variable in modeling ecosystem processes and tree construction costs. However, most measurements of the density and mechanical properties of wood have little direct bearing on understanding the biomechanics of living plants because they are based on kiln- or air-dried samples. • Here, we present and analyze the relationships between four important mechanical properties (Young's modulus, the modulus of rupture, and the maximum strength in shearing and in compression) and the density of green wood (i.e., wood at 50% moisture content) from a worldwide, taxonomically broad spectrum of 161 species. • These data indicate that each of the mechanical properties disproportionately increases across species with increasing green wood density, i.e., stems composed of denser green wood are disproportionately stiffer and stronger than stems with equivalent cross-sections composed of less dense green wood. • Although denser wood may have a higher carbon construction cost, the mechanical benefits of denser woods likely outweigh the extra cost.

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          Towards a worldwide wood economics spectrum.

          Wood performs several essential functions in plants, including mechanically supporting aboveground tissue, storing water and other resources, and transporting sap. Woody tissues are likely to face physiological, structural and defensive trade-offs. How a plant optimizes among these competing functions can have major ecological implications, which have been under-appreciated by ecologists compared to the focus they have given to leaf function. To draw together our current understanding of wood function, we identify and collate data on the major wood functional traits, including the largest wood density database to date (8412 taxa), mechanical strength measures and anatomical features, as well as clade-specific features such as secondary chemistry. We then show how wood traits are related to one another, highlighting functional trade-offs, and to ecological and demographic plant features (growth form, growth rate, latitude, ecological setting). We suggest that, similar to the manifold that tree species leaf traits cluster around the 'leaf economics spectrum', a similar 'wood economics spectrum' may be defined. We then discuss the biogeography, evolution and biogeochemistry of the spectrum, and conclude by pointing out the major gaps in our current knowledge of wood functional traits.
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            Land-plant ecology on the basis of functional traits.

            The tissue traits and architectures of plant species are important for land-plant ecology in two ways. First, they control ecosystem processes and define habitat and resources for other taxa; thus, they are a high priority for understanding the ecosystem at a site. Second, knowledge of trait costs and benefits offers the most promising path to understanding how vegetation properties change along physical geography gradients. There exists an informal shortlist of plant traits that are thought to be most informative. Here, we summarize recent research on correlations and tradeoffs surrounding some traits that are prospects for the shortlist. By extending the list and by developing better models for how traits influence species distributions and interactions, a strong foundation of basic ecology can be established, with many practical applications.
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              Research review. Components of leaf dry mass per area - thickness and density - alter leaf photosynthetic capacity in reverse directions in woody plants

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                21616793
                10.3732/ajb.1000150

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