Does greater specific leaf area plasticity help plants to maintain a high performance when shaded?
2016, Liu, Yanjie, Dawson, Wayne, Prati, Daniel, Haeuser, Emily Sutton, Feng, Yanhao, van Kleunen, Mark
It is frequently assumed that phenotypic plasticity can be very advantageous for plants, because it may increase environmental tolerance (fitness homeostasis). This should, however, only hold for plastic responses that are adaptive, i.e. increase fitness. Numerous studies have shown shade-induced increases in specific leaf area (SLA), and there is wide consensus that this plastic response optimizes light capture and thus has to be adaptive. However, it has rarely been tested whether this is really the case.