Convergence in relationships between leaf traits, spectra and age across diverse canopy environments and two contrasting tropical forests

by Jin Wu, Cecilia Chavana-Bryant, Neill Prohaska, Shawn P. Serbin, Kaiyu Guan, Loren P. Albert, Xi Yang, Willem J. D. van Leeuwen, Anthony John Garnello, Giordane Martins, Yadvinder Malhi, France Gerard, Raimundo Cosme Oliviera, and Scott R. Saleska

Leaf age structures the phenology and development of plants, as well as the evolution of leaf traits over life histories. However, a general method for efficiently estimating leaf age across forests and canopy environments is lacking.  Here, we showed that leaf spectra can predict leaf ages from leaf reflectance spectra across two contrasting forests in Peru and Brazil and across diverse canopy environments.   This work suggests that fundamental rules link leaf traits to leaf environments, and constrain the development of optically-detectable leaf traits and allow for general prediction of leaf age from spectra across species, sites and canopy environments.