, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 303–308

Tissue water relations of three chaparral shrub species after wildfire

  • M. W. Saruwatari
  • S. D. Davis
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00379031

Cite this article as:
Saruwatari, M.W. & Davis, S.D. Oecologia (1989) 80: 303. doi:10.1007/BF00379031


We compared the tissue water relations among resprouts and seedlings of three chaparral species during the first summer drought after wildfire. Two of the species, Rhus laurina and Ceanothus spinosus recover after fire by a combination of resprouting and seedling establishment (facultative resprouters), whereas a third species, Ceanothus megacarpus recovers by seedling establishment alone (obligate seeder). Our objectives were to document any differences in tissue water characteristics that might arise between resprouts and seedlings and to test the hypothesis that seedlings of obligate seeders develop more drought tolerant characteristics of their tissues than seedlings of facultative resprouters. We found that resprouts had much higher predawn values of water potential, osmotic potential, and turgor potentials than seedlings. Predawn turgor potentials of resprouts were 1.5 MPa through July and August when turgor potentials for seedlings remained near 0 MPa. During summer months, midday water potentials were 2 to 3 MPa higher for resprouts than seedlings and midday conductances of resprouts were two to five fold greater than those of seedlings. Even though resprouts did not experience severe water stress like seedlings, their tissue water characteristics, as determined by pressure-volume curve analyses, were similar by the peak of the drought in August. Further-more, the tissue water characteristics of seedlings from the obligate seeder, C. megacarpus, were similar to those of facultative resprouters — R. laurina, and C. spinosus. We attribute the observed differences in plant water status between resprouts and seedlings to differences in rooting depths and access to soil moisture reserves during summer drought. We conclude that the higher growth rates, photosynthetic performance, and survivorship of postfire resprouts are primarily a result of higher water availability to resprouting tissues during summer months. It appears that the greater seedling survivorship during summer drought observed for the obligate seeder, C. megacarpus, is not associated with more favorable tissue water characteristics.

Key words

ChaparralOsmotic potentialTurgorPressure-volume curveDew-point hygrometry

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. W. Saruwatari
    • 1
  • S. D. Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.Natural Science DivisionPepperdine UniversityMalibuUSA