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Cavitation Resistance among 26 Chaparral Species of Southern California

Anna L. Jacobsen, R. Brandon Pratt, Frank W. Ewers and Stephen D. Davis
Ecological Monographs
Vol. 77, No. 1 (Feb., 2007), pp. 99-115
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27646074
Page Count: 17
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Cavitation Resistance among 26 Chaparral Species of Southern California
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Abstract

Resistance to xylem cavitation depends on the size of xylem pit membrane pores and the strength of vessels to resist collapse or, in the case of freezing-induced cavitation, conduit diameter. Altering these traits may impact plant biomechanics or water transport efficiency. The evergreen sclerophyllous shrub species, collectively referred to as chaparral, which dominate much of the mediterranean-type climate region of southern California, have been shown to display high cavitation resistance (pressure potential at 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity; P50). We examined xylem functional and structural traits associated with more negative P50 in stems of 26 chaparral species. We correlated raw-trait values, without phylogenetic consideration, to examine current relationships between P50 and these xylem traits. Additionally, correlations were examined using phylogenetic independent contrasts (PICs) to determine whether evolutionary changes in these xylem traits correlate with changes in P50. Co-occurring chaparral species widely differ in their P50 (-0.9 to -11.0 MPa). Species experiencing the most negative seasonal pressure potential (Pmin) had the highest resistance to xylem cavitation (lowest P50). Decreased P50 was associated with increased xylem density, stem mechanical strength (modulus of rupture), and transverse fiber wall area when both raw values and PICs were analyzed. These results support a functional and evolutionary relationship among these xylem traits and cavitation resistance. Chaparral species that do not sprout following fire but instead recruit post-fire from seed had the greatest resistance to cavitation, presumably because they rely on post-fire survival of seedlings during the summer dry period to persist in the landscape. Raw values of hydraulic vessel diameter (dh), maximum vessel length, and xylem-specific hydraulic conductivity (Ks) were correlated to P50; however, dh, maximum vessel length, and Ks were not correlated to P50 when analyzed using PICs, suggesting that these traits have not undergone correlated evolutionary change. We found no difference in xylem traits between species occurring at freezing vs. nonfreezing sites, although freezing has been shown to affect the survival and distributions of some chaparral species. Stem mechanical strength, fiber properties, and post-fire regeneration type appear to be key factors in the evolution of cavitation resistance among chaparral shrubs.

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