We have a new paper in Oecologia from our Zambian former DPhil student Royd Vinya, emerging from his DPhil work on plant hydraulic traits in wetter and drier environments in the miombo woodlands of Zambia. The paper shows that tree species with a a narrow (wetter) habitat range were more vulnerable to hydraulic cavitation range than those adapted to drier sites, which had broader ranges. We observed a strong trade-off between vessel conductivity and resistance to cavitation, suggesting that tree hydraulic architecture is one of the decisive factors setting ecological boundaries for principal miombo species. While vessel diameters correlated weakly cavitation vulnerability, it was vessel length that was positively and most significantly correlated. This paper gives us insights into the role and flexibility of plant hydraulic architecture in determining species' ecological ranges.
Vinya R., Malhi Y., Fisher J.B., Brown N., Brodribb T.J., Aragao L.E. (2013) Xylem cavitation vulnerability influences tree species’ habitat preferences in miombo woodlands Oecologia 173:711–720 DOI 10.1007/s00442-013-2671-2. Supplementary Table.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University