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Conifer and broadleaved trees differ in branch allometry but maintain similar functional balances

First Author: Zhang L

Conifers and broadleaved trees coexist in temperate forests and are expected to differ in partitioning strategies between leaf and stem. We compare functional balances between water loss and water supply, and between sugar production and sugar transport/storage, and associate these with xylem growth to better understand how they contribute to these life form strategies. We sampled canopy branches from 14 common species in a temperate forest in northeast China and measured xylem area, phloem area, ray area, ray percentage, dry wood density, xylem conductivity and mean xylem growth rate for branch stems, and the leaf area and specific leaf area for leaves, and calculated the leaf-specific conductivity. Conifers and broadleaved trees did not differ significantly in tissue areas, xylem growth rate and the relation between phloem area and leaf area. Conifers had higher xylem area but lower ray area relative to leaf area. For the same xylem conductivity, phloem area and ray parenchyma area did not differ between conifers and broadleaved trees. Xylem growth rate was similar relative to leaf area and phloem area. Our results indicate that conifers tend to develop more xylem area per leaf area and more tracheid area at the cost of ray parenchyma area, probably to compensate for the low water transport ability of tracheid-based xylem. The divergent strategies between conifers and broadleaved tree species in leaf area and xylem area partitioning probably lead to the convergence of partitioning between leaf area and phloem area. Consequently, conifers tend to consume rather than store carbon to achieve a similar xylem expansion per year as coexisting broadleaved trees.

Contact the author: Chen YJ; Ma KP
Page Number: 511-519
Issue: 4
Impact Factor: 3.477
Authors units:
PubYear: Apr 2020
Volume: 40
Publication Name: Tree Physiology
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