Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Natural Science and Mathematics, Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Anna Sher

Second Advisor

Eduardo González-Sargas

Third Advisor

Jon Velotta

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Martin

Fifth Advisor

Jing Li


Functional trait, Intraspecific variation, Riparian, SLA, Specific leaf area, Urban-rural


Specific leaf area (SLA) reflects a plant’s carbon investment per area and relates to generalized leaf economics spectrum growth strategies (LES). To fill gaps of knowledge about intraspecific SLA variation and why it is often inconsistent with the LES, we studied the response of two riparian tree species along the urban-rural gradient in Northeastern Colorado: an invasive, nitrogen-fixer with broad tolerances and a nitrogen-limited and shade-intolerant native. Despite these differences, the two species responded similarly, apart from the response to the urban-rural gradient, in which lower nitrogen in rural areas was associated with a more conservative strategy in the native species. We found that light, plant size and proximity to water in two dimensions all affected SLA, but interactions between these could even reverse their impact. These results suggest that global LES patterns are complex on a local scale and are subject to interactions not previously explored.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Amanda Malone


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

60 pgs


Ecology, Plant sciences, Biology