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Further Observations on the Water Relations of Prosopis tamarugo of the Northern Atacama Desert

H. A. Mooney, S. L. Gulmon, P. W. Rundel and J. Ehleringer
Oecologia
Vol. 44, No. 2 (1980), pp. 177-180
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4216007
Page Count: 4
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Further Observations on the Water Relations of Prosopis tamarugo of the Northern Atacama Desert
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Abstract

Prosopis tamarugo, a tree native to the Atacama desert of Chile apparently has unique water relations. It is proposed that in its native habitat, where there is essentially no precipitation, establishment occurs during the rare flooding periods, with water coming as runoff from the Andes. These plants subsequently exist as phreatophytes tapping the relatively shallow ground water. Although phreatophytic, the plants appear to come under increasing drought stress as the growing season progresses. Because of the very low water potentials of the salty surface soils, water evidently moves from the plant into the soil under certain conditions. This water may be reabsorbed subsequently and used by the plant as the water table capillary fringe is depleted toward the end of the leafy period.

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