Coordination of leaf and stem water transport properties in tropical forest trees

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Journal Article
Oecologia, 2008, 156 (1), pp. 31 - 41
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Stomatal regulation of transpiration constrains leaf water potential (?L) within species-specific ranges that presumably avoid excessive tension and embolism in the stem xylem upstream. However, the hydraulic resistance of leaves can be highly variable over short time scales, uncoupling tension in the xylem of leaves from that in the stems to which they are attached. We evaluated a suite of leaf and stem functional traits governing water relations in individuals of 11 lowland tropical forest tree species to determine the manner in which the traits were coordinated with stem xylem vulnerability to embolism. Stomatal regulation of ?L was associated with minimum values of water potential in branches (?br) whose functional significance was similar across species. Minimum values of ?br coincided with the bulk sapwood tissue osmotic potential at zero turgor derived from pressurevolume curves and with the transition from a linear to exponential increase in xylem embolism with increasing sapwood water deficits.
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