Biophysical and life-history determinants of hydraulic lift in Neotropical savanna trees

Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Functional Ecology, 2008, 22 (5), pp. 773 - 786
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Ecological and physiological characteristics of vascular plants may facilitate or constrain hydraulic lift. Studies of hydraulic lift typically include only one or few species, but in species-rich ecosystems a larger number of representative species needs to be studied. 2. Measurements of sap flow in tap roots, lateral roots and stems, as well as stable isotope labelling techniques were used to determine the occurrence and relative magnitude of hydraulic lift in several individuals of nine co-occurring Brazilian savanna (Cerrado) tree species differing in life-history traits, and to assess physical and biological determinants of this process at the tree and ecosystem level. 3. The occurrence of reverse sap flow observed in deciduous and brevideciduous species during the dry season was consistent with hydraulic lift. The evergreen species did not exhibit reverse flow. Consistent with their ability to carry out hydraulic lift, the brevideciduous and deciduous species had both shallow and tap roots (dimorphic root systems), whereas the evergreen species had mostly deep roots (monomorphic root systems). 4. In the deciduous and brevideciduous species, the contribution of tap roots to transpiration increased substantially as the dry season progressed.
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