Leaf gas exchange and stem xylem hydraulic and mechanical properties were studied for unburned adults and resprouting burned Juglans californica (southern California black walnut) trees 1 year after a fire to explore possible trade-offs between mechanical and hydraulic properties of plants. The CO2 uptake rates and stomatal conductance were 2-3 times greater for resprouting trees than for unburned adults. Both predawn and midday water potentials were more negative for unburned adult trees, indicating that the stems were experiencing greater water stress than the stems of resprouting trees. In addition, the xylem specific conductivity was similar in the two growth forms, even though the stems of resprouting trees were less vulnerable to water-stress-induced embolism than similar diameter, but older, stems of adult trees. The reduced vulnerability may have been due to less cavitation fatigue in stems of resprouts. The modulus of elasticity, modulus of rupture and xylem density were all greater for resprouts, indicating that resprouts have greater mechanical strength than do adult trees. The data suggest that there is no trade-off between stem mechanical strength and shoot hydraulic and photosynthetic efficiency in resprouts, which may have implications for the success of this species in the fire-prone plant communities of southern California.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics