Sensitivity of mean canopy stomatal conductance to vapor pressure deficit in a flooded Taxodium distichum L. forest: hydraulic and non-hydraulic effects.
We measured the xylem sap flux in 64-year-old Taxodium distichum (L.) Richard trees growing in a flooded forest using Granier-type sensors to estimate mean canopy stomatal conductance of the stand (G S). Temporal variations in G S were investigated in relation to variation in vapor pressure deficit (D), photosynthetic photon flux density (Q o), and the transpiration rate per unit of leaf area (E L), the latter variable serving as a proxy for plant water potential. We found that G S was only weakly related to Q o below 500 µmol m-2 s-1 (r 2=0.29), but unrelated to Q o above this value. Above Q o=500 µmol m-2 s-1 and D=0.6 kPa, G S decreased linearly with increasing E L with a poor fit (r 2=0.31), and linearly with lnD with a much better fit (r 2=0.81). The decrease of G S with lnD was at a rate predicted based on a simple hydraulic model in which stomata regulate the minimum leaf water potential. Based on the hydraulic model, stomatal sensitivity to D is proportional to stomatal conductance at low D. A hurricane caused an ~41% reduction in leaf area. This resulted in a 28% increase in G S at D=1 kPa (G Sref), indicating only partial compensation. As predicted, the increase in G Sref after the hurricane was accompanied by a similar increase in stomatal sensitivity to D (29%). At night, G Sref was ~20% of the daytime value under non-limiting light (Q o>500 µmol m-2 s-1). However, stomatal sensitivity to D decreased only to ~46% (both reductions referenced to pre-hurricane daytime values), thus having more than twice the sensitivity expected based on hydraulic considerations alone. Therefore, non-hydraulic processes must cause heightened nighttime stomatal sensitivity to D.
Oren, R; Sperry, JS; Ewers, BE; Pataki, DE; Phillips, N; Megonigal, JP
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