Linkage between seasonal gas exchange and hydraulic acclimation in the top canopy leaves of Fagus trees in a mesic forest in Japan
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- Uemura, A., Ishida, A., Tobias, D.J. et al. Trees (2004) 18: 452. doi:10.1007/s00468-004-0328-9
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We investigated how leaf gas exchange and hydraulic properties acclimate to increasing evaporative demand in mature beech trees, Fagus crenata Blume and Fagus japonica Maxim., growing in their natural habitat. The measurements in the top canopy leaves were conducted using a 16-m-high scaffolding tower over two growing seasons. The daily maxima of net photosynthetic rate for the early growing season were close to the annual maximum value (11.9 μmol m−2 s−1 in F. crenata and 7.7 μmol m−2 s−1 in F. japonica). The daily maxima of water vapor stomatal conductance were highest in the summer, approximately 0.3 mol m−2 s−1 in F. crenata and 0.15 mol m−2 s−1 in F. japonica. From the early growing season to the summer season, the leaf-to-air vapor pressure deficit increased and the daily minima of leaf water potentials decreased. However, there was no loss of leaf turgor in the summer as a result of effective osmotic adjustment. Both the soil-to-leaf hydraulic conductance per unit leaf area and the twig hydraulic conductivity simultaneously increased in the summer, probably as a result of production of new vessels in the xylem. These results suggest that both osmotic adjustment and increased hydraulic conductance resulted in the largest diurnal maximum of stomatal conductance in the summer, resulting in the lowest relative stomatal limitation on net photosynthetic rate, although the leaf-to-air vapor pressure deficit was highest. These results indicate that even in a mesic forest, in which excessive hydraulic stress does not occur, the seasonal acclimation of hydraulic properties at both the single leaf and whole plant levels are important for plant carbon gain.