Scaling of tree vascular transport systems along gradients of nutrient supply and altitude

David A. Coomes, Kerry L. Jenkins, Lydia E.S. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A recent metabolic scaling theory predicts that plants minimize resistance to hydraulic conduction in the bulk transport network by narrowing the diameter of xylem conduits distally. We hypothesized that trees growing at high altitude or on nutrient-depleted soils would prioritize survival over minimizing hydraulic resistance, and that their vascular systems would be structured differently from those of trees growing under more benign conditions. In fact, conduits were observed to narrow towards the periphery of vascular system within all 45 trees of three species we investigated, and scaling relationships were indistinguishable across a range of environments. Thus, conduit tapering relationships appear to be invariant with respect to environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-89
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2007

Keywords

  • Allometry
  • Hydraulic resistance
  • Scaling relationships
  • Tapering
  • Xylem conduits

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