Journal Article

Gender-specific patterns of aboveground allocation, canopy conductance and water use in a dominant riparian tree species: <i>Acer negundo</i>

K. R. Hultine, S. E. Bush, A. G. West, K. G. Burtch, D. E. Pataki and J. R. Ehleringer

in Tree Physiology

Volume 28, issue 9, pages 1383-1394
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/28.9.1383
Gender-specific patterns of aboveground allocation, canopy conductance and water use in a dominant riparian tree species: Acer negundo

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Acer negundo Sarg. (box elder) is a dioecious tree species that dominates riparian systems at mid elevations throughout the southwest and Intermountain West of the United States. Previous studies have shown that female A. negundo trees occur at higher frequencies along stream margins, whereas males occur at higher frequencies in drier microsites. To better understand the adaptive significance of sex ratio biases and their impact on the ecohydrology of riparian ecosystems, we examined whole-plant water relations and hydraulic properties of mature male and female A. negundo trees occurring within 1 m of a perennial stream channel. We hypothesized that (1) females would have significantly greater canopy water fluxes than males (particularly during periods of seed production: May–June), and (2) xylem in females is more hydraulically efficient but more vulnerable to cavitation than xylem in males. Mean sap flux density (Js) during the early growing season (May and June) was 43% higher in female trees than in male trees (n = 6 and 7 trees respectively, P < 0.0001). Mean Js in July and August remained 17% higher in females than in males (P = 0.0009). Mean canopy stomatal conductance per unit leaf area (gs,leaf) in May and June was on average 140% higher in females than in males (P < 0.0001). Mean gs,leaf in July and August remained 69% higher in female trees than in male trees (P < 0.0001). Canopy stomatal conductance scaled to basal area was 90 and 31% higher in females relative to males during May–June and July–August, respectively (P < 0.0001 during both periods). Conversely, there were no apparent differences in either branch hydraulic conductance or branch xylem cavitation vulnerability between genders. These results improve our capacity to describe the adaptive forces that shape the spatial distribution of male and female trees in dioecious species, and their consequences for ecohydrological processes in riparian ecosystems.

Keywords: dioecy; hydraulic architecture; sap flux; xylem cavitation

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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