Leaf structure is central to plant function, and the implications of this, both to the plant itself and beyond, at the ecosystem level, are now becoming fully realized. This book addresses variation in leaf structure in detail, with reviews and analyses on specific aspects, and in so doing it encapsulates the state of current knowledge in this important area. The impact of leaf structure on plant furiction is certainly far-reaching - it is intimately connected with the rate at which the leaf fixes carbon dioxide, the rate at which the plant can grow and the efficiency with which the plant conserves nutrients. It is therefore related to plant performance in different habitats, and can be used to characterize species, to define functional groups and even to predict the response of species to varying environmental conditions. The impact of variation in leaf
structure of component species on community productivity and nutrient cycling is an area of intense current research. The synergy created through the various approaches to leaf structure discussed in this book has produced a unique resource, from which it is possible to identify those issues and challenges that will be the most vital for the future.