Recent studies on post‐fire tree mortality suggest a role for heat‐induced alterations of the hydraulic system. We analyzed heat effects on xylem hydraulics both in the laboratory and at a forest site hit by fire. Stem vulnerability to drought‐induced embolism and hydraulic conductivity were measured in Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris and Fagus sylvatica. Control branches were compared with samples experimentally exposed to 90°C or damaged by a natural forest fire. In addition, xylem anatomical changes were examined microscopically. Experimental heating caused structural changes in the xylem and increased vulnerability in all species. The largest shifts in vulnerability thresholds (1.3 MPa) were observed in P. sylvestris. F. sylvatica also showed heat‐induced reductions (49%) in hydraulic conductivity. At the field site, increased vulnerability was observed in damaged branches of P. sylvestris and F. sylvatica, and the xylem of F. sylvatica was 39% less conductive in damaged than in undamaged branches. These results provide evidence for heat‐induced impairment of tree hydraulics after fire. The effects recorded at the forest fire site corresponded to those obtained in laboratory experiments, and revealed pronounced hydraulic risks in P. sylvestris and F. sylvatica. Knowledge of species‐specific hydraulic impairments induced by fire and heat is a prerequisite for accurate estimation of post‐fire mortality risks.

Post-fire effects in xylem hydraulics of Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris and Fagus sylvatica

Nardini, Andrea;
2018-01-01

Abstract

Recent studies on post‐fire tree mortality suggest a role for heat‐induced alterations of the hydraulic system. We analyzed heat effects on xylem hydraulics both in the laboratory and at a forest site hit by fire. Stem vulnerability to drought‐induced embolism and hydraulic conductivity were measured in Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris and Fagus sylvatica. Control branches were compared with samples experimentally exposed to 90°C or damaged by a natural forest fire. In addition, xylem anatomical changes were examined microscopically. Experimental heating caused structural changes in the xylem and increased vulnerability in all species. The largest shifts in vulnerability thresholds (1.3 MPa) were observed in P. sylvestris. F. sylvatica also showed heat‐induced reductions (49%) in hydraulic conductivity. At the field site, increased vulnerability was observed in damaged branches of P. sylvestris and F. sylvatica, and the xylem of F. sylvatica was 39% less conductive in damaged than in undamaged branches. These results provide evidence for heat‐induced impairment of tree hydraulics after fire. The effects recorded at the forest fire site corresponded to those obtained in laboratory experiments, and revealed pronounced hydraulic risks in P. sylvestris and F. sylvatica. Knowledge of species‐specific hydraulic impairments induced by fire and heat is a prerequisite for accurate estimation of post‐fire mortality risks.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/2936866
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