Hydraulic architecture of two species differing in wood density: opposing strategies in co-occurring tropical pioneer trees.
Co-occurring species often have different strategies for tolerating daily cycles of water stress. One underlying parameter that can link together the suite of traits that enables a given strategy is wood density. Here we compare hydraulic traits of two pioneer species from a tropical forest in Panama that differ in wood density: Miconia argentea and Anacardium excelsum. As hypothesized, the higher wood density of Miconia was associated with smaller diameter vessels and fibres, more water stress-resistant leaves and stems, and roughly half the capacitance of the lower wood density Anacardium. However, the scaling of hydraulic parameters such as the increases in leaf area and measures of hydraulic conductivity with stem diameter was remarkably similar between the two species. The collection of traits exhibited by Miconia allowed it to tolerate more water stress than Anacardium, which relied more heavily on its capacitance to buffer daily water potential fluctuations. This work demonstrates the importance of examining a range of hydraulic traits throughout the plant and highlights the spectrum of possible strategies for coping with daily and seasonal water stress cycles.
McCulloh, KA; Johnson, DM; Meinzer, FC; Voelker, SL; Lachenbruch, B; Domec, J-C
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