In alpine regions, tree hydraulics are limited by low temperatures that restrict xylem growth and induce winter frost drought and freezing stress. While several studies have dealt with functional limitations, data on elevational changes in functionally relevant xylem anatomical parameters are still scarce. In wood cores of Pinus cembra L. and Picea abies (L.) Karst. trunks, harvested along five elevational transects, xylem anatomical parameters (tracheid hydraulic diameter dh, wall reinforcement (t/b)2), pit dimensions (pit aperture Da, pit membrane Dm and torus Dt diameters) and respective functional indices (torus overlap O, margo flexibility) were measured. In both species, tracheid diameters decreased and (t/b)2 increased with increasing elevation, while pit dimensions and functional indices remained rather constant (P. cembra: Dt 10.3 ± 0.2 μm, O 0.477 ± 0.005; P. abies: Dt 9.30 ± 0.18 μm, O 0.492 ± 0.005). However, dh increased with tree height following a power trajectory with an exponent of 0.21, and also pit dimensions increased with tree height (exponents: Dm 0.18; Dt 0.14; Da 0.11). Observed elevational trends in xylem structures were predominantly determined by changes in tree size. Tree height-related changes in anatomical traits showed a remarkable robustness, regardless of the distributional ranges of study species. Despite increasing stress intensities towards the timberline, no adjustment in hydraulic safety at the pit level was observed.

Robustness of xylem properties in conifers: Analyses of tracheid and pit dimensions along elevational transects

Losso, Adriano
;
Nardini, Andrea;
2018-01-01

Abstract

In alpine regions, tree hydraulics are limited by low temperatures that restrict xylem growth and induce winter frost drought and freezing stress. While several studies have dealt with functional limitations, data on elevational changes in functionally relevant xylem anatomical parameters are still scarce. In wood cores of Pinus cembra L. and Picea abies (L.) Karst. trunks, harvested along five elevational transects, xylem anatomical parameters (tracheid hydraulic diameter dh, wall reinforcement (t/b)2), pit dimensions (pit aperture Da, pit membrane Dm and torus Dt diameters) and respective functional indices (torus overlap O, margo flexibility) were measured. In both species, tracheid diameters decreased and (t/b)2 increased with increasing elevation, while pit dimensions and functional indices remained rather constant (P. cembra: Dt 10.3 ± 0.2 μm, O 0.477 ± 0.005; P. abies: Dt 9.30 ± 0.18 μm, O 0.492 ± 0.005). However, dh increased with tree height following a power trajectory with an exponent of 0.21, and also pit dimensions increased with tree height (exponents: Dm 0.18; Dt 0.14; Da 0.11). Observed elevational trends in xylem structures were predominantly determined by changes in tree size. Tree height-related changes in anatomical traits showed a remarkable robustness, regardless of the distributional ranges of study species. Despite increasing stress intensities towards the timberline, no adjustment in hydraulic safety at the pit level was observed.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/2936870
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