Journal Article

Stem hydraulic traits and leaf water-stress tolerance are co-ordinated with the leaf phenology of angiosperm trees in an Asian tropical dry karst forest

Pei-Li Fu, Yan-Juan Jiang, Ai-Ying Wang, Tim J. Brodribb, Jiao-Lin Zhang, Shi-Dan Zhu and Kun-Fang Cao

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 1, pages 189-199
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcs092
Stem hydraulic traits and leaf water-stress tolerance are co-ordinated with the leaf phenology of angiosperm trees in an Asian tropical dry karst forest

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Background and Aims

The co-occurring of evergreen and deciduous angiosperm trees in Asian tropical dry forests on karst substrates suggests the existence of different water-use strategies among species. In this study it is hypothesized that the co-occurring evergreen and deciduous trees differ in stem hydraulic traits and leaf water relationships, and there will be correlated evolution in drought tolerance between leaves and stems.

Methods

A comparison was made of stem hydraulic conductivity, vulnerability curves, wood anatomy, leaf life span, leaf pressure–volume characteristics and photosynthetic capacity of six evergreen and six deciduous tree species co-occurring in a tropical dry karst forest in south-west China. The correlated evolution of leaf and stem traits was examined using both traditional and phylogenetic independent contrasts correlations.

Key Results

It was found that the deciduous trees had higher stem hydraulic efficiency, greater hydraulically weighted vessel diameter (Dh) and higher mass-based photosynthetic rate (Am); while the evergreen species had greater xylem-cavitation resistance, lower leaf turgor-loss point water potential (π0) and higher bulk modulus of elasticity. There were evolutionary correlations between leaf life span and stem hydraulic efficiency, Am, and dry season π0. Xylem-cavitation resistance was evolutionarily correlated with stem hydraulic efficiency, Dh, as well as dry season π0. Both wood density and leaf density were closely correlated with leaf water-stress tolerance and Am.

Conclusions

The results reveal the clear distinctions in stem hydraulic traits and leaf water-stress tolerance between the co-occurring evergreen and deciduous angiosperm trees in an Asian dry karst forest. A novel pattern was demonstrated linking leaf longevity with stem hydraulic efficiency and leaf water-stress tolerance. The results show the correlated evolution in drought tolerance between stems and leaves.

Keywords: Tropical dry forest; karst; leaf habit; hydraulic conductivity; cavitation resistance; leaf water-stress tolerance; wood density; leaf density; phylogenetic independent contrasts

Journal Article.  7701 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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