Hydraulic properties and photosynthetic rates in co-occuring lianas and trees in a seasonal tropical rainforest in southwestern China


S-D Zhu
K-F Cao

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Plant Ecology


In this study, we examined wood anatomy, hydraulic properties, photosynthetic rate, and water status and osmotic regulation in three liana species and three tree species co-occurring in a seasonal tropical rain forest. Our results showed that the three liana species had larger vessel diameter, lower sapwood density, and consequently higher branch sapwood specific hydraulic conductivity (K S) than the three tree species. Across species, K S was positively correlated with leaf nitrogen concentration and maximum net CO2 assimilation rate. However, it was also positively correlated with xylem water potential at 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity, indicating a trade-off between hydraulic efficiency and safety. Compared to the tree species, the liana species had higher predawn leaf water potential and lower osmotic adjustment in the dry season. The combination of more efficient water transport, higher photosynthetic rates, and their ability to access to more reliable water source at deeper soil layers in the dry season in the lianas should contribute to their fast growth.