Oxford University Press
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Natural Sciences/Centre for Ecosystem Management
Maximum and minimum stomatal conductance, as well as stomatal size and rate of response, are known to vary widely across plant species, but the functional relationship between these static and dynamic stomatal properties is unknown. The objective of this study was to test three hypotheses: (i) operating stomatal conductance under standard conditions (gop) correlates with minimum stomatal conductance prior to morning light [gmin(dawn)]; (ii) stomatal size (S) is negatively correlated with gop and the maximum rate of stomatal opening in response to light, (dg/dt)max; and (iii) gop correlates negatively with instantaneous water-use efficiency (WUE) despite positive correlations with maximum rate of carboxylation (Vc max) and light-saturated rate of electron transport (J max). Using five closely related species of the genus Banksia, the above variables were measured, and it was found that all three hypotheses were supported by the results. Overall, this indicates that leaves built for higher rates of gas exchange have smaller stomata and faster dynamic characteristics. With the aid of a stomatal control model, it is demonstrated that higher g op can potentially expose plants to larger tissue water potential gradients, and that faster stomatal response times can help offset this risk.