, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 204-214

Cavitation and water storage capacity in bole xylem segments of mature and young Douglas-fir trees

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Hydraulic specific conductivity, vulnerability to cavitation and water storage capacity of Douglas-fir sapwood was determined for samples from six young (1.0–1.5 m tall) and six mature trees (41–45 m tall). Measurements on samples from young trees showedthere were no effects of two contrasting sample types (entire stem segments vs sectors chiseled out of entire stems) on any of the calculated hydraulic parameters, for vulnerability to cavitation and water storage capacity. Measurements on mature trees were made on wood from four heights on the bole and from two sapwood depths. Outer and inner sapwood at the base of the tree had higher water storage capacities and were more vulnerable to cavitation than was sapwood from the tree top. At every height, old trees were more vulnerable to cavitation than at 1.0 m from the ground in young trees. The water storage capacities showed three distinct phases at the base of the trunk. Young trees had similar water storage capacity (per unit volume of sapwood) to the topof the mature trees, which was lower than the water storage capacity throughout the rest of the bole xylem. The way in which capacitance was calculated (on a volumetric basis vs a relative water content basis) affected the conclusion one would draw at the low water potentials (<–3 MPa). Within a tree, we found an apparent trade-off between having both hydraulic specific conductivity and stem water storage, and vulnerability to cavitation.

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