Ecological Research

, 24:65

Inter-species variation of photosynthetic and xylem hydraulic traits in the deciduous and evergreen Euphorbiaceae tree species from a seasonally tropical forest in south-western China

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11284-008-0482-4

Cite this article as:
Chen, JW., Zhang, Q. & Cao, KF. Ecol Res (2009) 24: 65. doi:10.1007/s11284-008-0482-4


The objective of the present study was to examine the functional coordination among hydraulic traits, xylem characteristics and gas exchange rates across three deciduous Euphorbiaceae tree species (Hevea brasiliensis, Macaranga denticulata and Bischofia javanica) and three evergreen Euphorbiaceae tree species (Drypetes indica, Aleurites moluccana and Codiaeum variegatum) from a seasonally tropical forest in south-western China. The deciduous tree species were more vulnerable to water stress-induced embolism than the evergreen tree species. However, the deciduous tree species generally had higher maximal rates of sapwood and leaf-specific hydraulic conductivity (KS and KL), respectively. Compared with the evergreen tree species, the deciduous tree species, however, possessed a lower density of sapwood and a wider diameter of xylem vessels. Regardless of leaf phenology, the hydraulic vulnerability and conductivity were significantly correlated with sapwood density and mean vessel diameter. Furthermore, the hydraulic vulnerability was positively correlated with water transport efficiency. In addition, the deciduous tree species exhibited higher maximal photosynthetic rates (Amax) and stomatal conductance (gmax), but lower water use efficiency (WUE). Interestingly, the Amax, gmax and WUE were strongly correlated with KS and KL across the deciduous and evergreen tree species. These results suggest that xylem structure, rather than leaf phenology, accounts for the difference in hydraulic traits between the deciduous tree species and the evergreen tree species. Meanwhile, our results show that there is a significant trade-off between hydraulic efficiency and safety, and a strong functional correlation between the hydraulic capacity and gas exchange rates across the deciduous and evergreen tree species.


Hydraulic conductivityHydraulic vulnerabilityGas exchange rateXylem structureLeaf phenology

Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kunming Division, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenThe Chinese Academy of SciencesKunmingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China