José Eduardo Meireles https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2267-6074
Jeannine Cavender-Bares https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3375-9630
Philip A. Townsend https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7003-8774
Susan Ustin https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8551-0461
John A. Gamon https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8269-7723
Anna K. Schweiger https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5567-4200
Michael E. Schaepman https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9627-9565
Gregory P. Asner https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7893-6421
Roberta E. Martin https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3509-8530
Aditya Singh https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5559-9151
Franziska Schrodt https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9053-8872
Adam Chlus https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6719-9956
Brian C. O’Meara https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0337-5997
Date of this Version
New Phytologist (2020) 228: 485–493
- Leaf reflection spectra have been increasingly used to assess plant diversity. However, we do not yet understand how spectra vary across the tree of life or how the evolution of leaf traits affects the differentiation of spectra among species and lineages.
- Here we describe a framework that integrates spectra with phylogenies and apply it to aglobal dataset of over 16 000 leaf-level spectra (400–2400 nm) for 544 seed plant species. We test for phylogenetic signal in spectra, evaluate their ability to classify lineages, and characterize their evolutionary dynamics.
- We show that phylogenetic signal is present in leaf spectra but that the spectral regions most strongly associated with the phylogeny vary among lineages. Despite among-lineage heterogeneity, broad plant groups, orders, and families can be identified from reflectance spectra. Evolutionary models also reveal that different spectral regions evolve at different rates and under different constraint levels, mirroring the evolution of their underlying traits.
- Leaf spectra capture the phylogenetic history of seed plants and the evolutionary dynamics of leaf chemistry and structure. Consequently, spectra have the potential to provide breakthrough assessments of leaf evolution and plant phylogenetic diversity at global scales.