Journal Article

Flash-flood impacts cause changes in wood anatomy of <i>Alnus glutinosa</i>, <i>Fraxinus angustifolia</i> and <i>Quercus pyrenaica</i>

J.A. Ballesteros, M. Stoffel, M. Bollschweiler, J.M. Bodoque and A. Díez-Herrero

in Tree Physiology

Volume 30, issue 6, pages 773-781
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online May 2010 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tpq031
Flash-flood impacts cause changes in wood anatomy of Alnus glutinosa, Fraxinus angustifolia and Quercus pyrenaica

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Flash floods may influence the development of trees growing on channel bars and floodplains. In this study, we analyze and quantify anatomical reactions to wounding in diffuse-porous (Alnus glutinosa L.) and ring-porous (Fraxinus angustifolia Vahl. and Quercus pyrenaica Willd.) trees in a Mediterranean environment. A total of 54 cross-sections and wedges were collected from trees that had been injured by past flash floods. From each of the samples, micro-sections were prepared at a tangential distance of 1.5 cm from the injury to determine wounding-related changes in radial width, tangential width and lumen of earlywood vessels, and fibers and parenchyma cells (FPC). In diffuse-porous A. glutinosa, the lumen area of vessels shows a significant (non-parametric test, P-value <0.05) decrease by almost 39% after wounding. For ring-porous F. angustifolia and Q. pyrenaica, significant decreases in vessel lumen area are observed as well by 59 and 42%, respectively. Radial width of vessels was generally more sensitive to the decrease than tangential width, but statistically significant values were only observed in F. angustifolia. Changes in the dimensions of earlywood FPC largely differed between species. While in ring-porous F. angustifolia and Q. pyrenaica the lumen of FPC dropped by 22 and 34% after wounding, we observed an increase in FPC lumen area in diffuse-porous A. glutinosa of ∼35%. Our data clearly show that A. glutinosa represents a valuable species for flash-flood research in vulnerable Mediterranean environments. For this species, it will be possible in the future to gather information on past flash floods with non-destructive sampling based on increment cores. In ring-porous F. angustifolia and Q. pyrenaica, flash floods leave less drastic, yet still recognizable, signatures of flash-flood activity through significant changes in vessel lumen area. In contrast, the use of changes in FPC dimensions appears less feasible for the determination of past flash-flood events as these two species do not react with the same intensity and clarity as A. glutinosa.

Keywords: anatomical changes; fibers and parenchyma cells; flash flood; growth rings; vessel; wounding

Journal Article.  4506 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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