Does foliage on the same branch compete for the same water? Experiments on Douglas-fir trees

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Do branchlets within a branch have autonomous water supplies, or do they share a common water supply system? We hypothesized that if branchlets shared a common water supply, then stomatal conductance (gs) on sunlit foliage would increase with reduced transpiration of competing foliage on the branch. We reduced transpiration of other foliage on the branch through bagging and shading, and we monitored the gas-exchange responses of the remaining sunlit foliage on the branch relative to control branches for several age classes of Douglas-fir trees (aged ∼10 years, 20 years, and 450 years old). Contrary to our hypothesis, we found no increases in gs in either young or old trees following transient reductions in the amount of transpiring leaf area. The diurnal change in water potential, mid-day stomatal closure and associated photosynthetic decline occurred at the same time and were of the same magnitude on both treated and untreated branches, with the exception of photosynthesis in one 450-year-old tree. Hydraulic conductance measurements of branch junctions indicate that xylem within branches is only partially interconnected which would reduce the effectiveness of shading as a means of increasing water supply to the remaining sunlit foliage. The lack of a response implies that when a branch is in partial shade, the remaining sunlit foliage has no advantage with respect to water status over foliage on a branch completely in the sun.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brooks, JR; Schulte, PJ; Bond, BJ; Coulombe, R; Domec, JC; Hinckley, TM; McDowell, N; Phillips, N

Published Date

  • January 1, 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 17 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 101 - 108

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0931-1890

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00468-002-0207-1

Citation Source

  • Scopus