|Leaf venation networks provide an integrative linkage between plant form, function and climate
niche, because leaf water transport underlies variation in plant performance.
Here, we develop theory based on leaf physiology that uses community-mean vein density
to predict growing season temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration. The key assumption
is that leaf water supply is matched to water demand in the local environment. We test
model predictions using leaves from 17 temperate and tropical sites that span broad climatic
We find quantitative agreement between predicted and observed climate values. We also
highlight additional leaf traits that may improve predictions.
Our study provides a novel approach for understanding the functional linkages between
functional traits and climate that may improve the reconstruction of paleoclimate from fossil