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Hydraulic and Photosynthetic Traits Vary with Successional Status of Woody Plants on the Loess Plateau

Yin, Qiulong, He, Jingwen, Tian, Tingting, Quan, Jiaxin, Zhao, Peng, Chai, Yongfu, Wang, Lei, Yue, Ming
Forests 2019 v.10 no.4
arid zones, fluid mechanics, leaf area, leaves, photosynthesis, pioneer species, sapwood, shrubs, trees, woody plants, China
Research highlights: Water transport and CO<inf>2</inf> diffusion are two important processes that determine the CO<inf>2</inf> assimilation efficiency in leaves. The integration of leaf economic and hydraulic traits will help to present a more comprehensive view of the succession of woody plants in arid regions. However, studies on hydraulic traits of plants from different successional stages are still rare compared to that on economic traits in arid regions. Materials and methods: We selected 31 species from shrub stage, pioneer tree stage and late successional stage on the Loess Plateau, and measured five economic traits and five hydraulic traits of these species. Results: We found species from the pioneer tree stage exhibited &ldquo;fast-growing&rdquo; characteristics with high maximum net photosynthesis rate (P<inf>max</inf>) and vein density (VD). Species from the late successional stage exhibited &ldquo;slow-growing&rdquo; characteristics with low P<inf>max</inf> and VD. Economic traits showed no significant differences among the three stages except for P<inf>max</inf>. Hydraulic traits, such as VD, leaf area to sapwood area ratio and vessel frequency, exhibited significant differences among different stages. Conclusions: Hydraulics may play an important role in the succession of woody plants in arid regions. Hydraulic traits and P<inf>max</inf>, should be combined to investigate succession of woody plants in future studies. The &ldquo;fast-growing&rdquo; characteristics of pioneer trees and &ldquo;slow-growing&rdquo; characteristics of late successional trees may induce the succession of woody plants.