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Relative importance of transpiration rate and leaf morphological traits for the regulation of leaf temperature

Vaz Monteiro, M., Blanusa, T., Verhoef, A. ORCID:, Hadley, P. and Cameron, R. W. F. (2016) Relative importance of transpiration rate and leaf morphological traits for the regulation of leaf temperature. Australian Journal of Botany, 64 (1). pp. 32-44. ISSN 0067-1924

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1071/BT15198


Urban greening solutions such as green roofs help improve residents’ thermal comfort and building insulation. However, not all plants provide the same level of cooling. This is partially due to differences in plant structure and function, including different mechanisms that plants employ to regulate leaf temperature. Ranking of multiple leaf/plant traits involved in the regulation of leaf temperature (and, consequently, plants’ cooling ‘service’) is not well understood. We therefore investigated the relative importance of water loss, leaf colour, thickness and extent of pubescence for the regulation of leaf temperature, in the context of species for semi-extensive green roofs. Leaf temperature were measured with an infrared imaging camera in a range of contrasting genotypes within three plant genera (Heuchera, Salvia and Sempervivum). In three glasshouse experiments (each evaluating three or four genotypes of each genera) we varied water availability to the plants and assessed how leaf temperature altered depending on water loss and specific leaf traits. Greatest reductions in leaf temperature were closely associated with higher water loss. Additionally, in non-succulents (Heuchera, Salvia), lighter leaf colour and longer hair length (on pubescent leaves) both contributed to reduced leaf temperature. However, in succulent Sempervivum, colour/pubescence made no significant contribution; leaf thickness and water loss rate were the key regulating factors. We propose that this can lead to different plant types having significantly different potentials for cooling. We suggest that maintaining transpirational water loss by sustainable irrigation and selecting urban plants with favourable morphological traits is the key to maximising thermal benefits provided by applications such as green roofs.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:46978
Publisher:CSIRO Publishing


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