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  • Salmon, Yann; Torres-Ruiz, Jose M.; Poyatos, Rafael; Martinez-Vilalta, Jordi; Meir, Patrick; Cochard, Herve; Mencuccini, Maurizio (2015)
    Understanding physiological processes involved in drought-induced mortality is important for predicting the future of forests and for modelling the carbon and water cycles. Recent research has highlighted the variable risks of carbon starvation and hydraulic failure in drought-exposed trees. However, little is known about the specific responses of leaves and supporting twigs, despite their critical role in balancing carbon acquisition and water loss. Comparing healthy (non-defoliated) and unhealthy (defoliated) Scots pine at the same site, we measured the physiological variables involved in regulating carbon and water resources. Defoliated trees showed different responses to summer drought compared with non-defoliated trees. Defoliated trees maintained gas exchange while non-defoliated trees reduced photosynthesis and transpiration during the drought period. At the branch scale, very few differences were observed in non-structural carbohydrate concentrations between health classes. However, defoliated trees tended to have lower water potentials and smaller hydraulic safety margins. While non-defoliated trees showed a typical response to drought for an isohydric species, the physiology appears to be driven in defoliated trees by the need to maintain carbon resources in twigs. These responses put defoliated trees at higher risk of branch hydraulic failure and help explain the interaction between carbon starvation and hydraulic failure in dying trees.
  • Gonzalez-Munoz, N.; Sterck, F.; Torres-Ruiz, J. M.; Petit, G.; Cochard, H.; von Arx, G.; Lintunen, A.; Caldeira, M. C.; Capdeville, G.; Copini, P.; Gebauer, R.; Gronlund, L.; Holtta, T.; Lobo-do-Vales, R.; Peltoniemi, M.; Stritih, A.; Urban, J.; Delzon, S. (2018)
    Many studies have reported that hydraulic properties vary considerably between tree species, but little is known about their intraspecific variation and, therefore, their capacity to adapt to a warmer and drier climate. Here, we quantify phenotypic divergence and clinal variation for embolism resistance, hydraulic conductivity and branch growth, in four tree species, two angiosperms (Betula pendula, Populus tremula) and two conifers (Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris), across their latitudinal distribution in Europe. Growth and hydraulic efficiency varied widely within species and between populations. The variability of embolism resistance was in general weaker than that of growth and hydraulic efficiency, and very low for all species but Populus tremula. In addition, no and weak support for a safety vs. efficiency trade-off was observed for the angiosperm and conifer species, respectively. The limited variability of embolism resistance observed here for all species except Populus tremula, suggests that forest populations will unlikely be able to adapt hydraulically to drier conditions through the evolution of embolism resistance.