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

Lan Zhang, Yajun Chen, Guangyou Hao, Keping Ma, Frans Bongers, Frank J. Sterck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-519
Number of pages9
JournalTree Physiology
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • allometry
  • canopy
  • functional balance
  • wood anatomy
  • xylem growth

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Conifer and broadleaved trees differ in branch allometry but maintain similar functional balances'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this