, Volume 171, Issue 1-2, pp 15-22

Ecophysiological response to severe drought in Pinus halepensis Mill. trees of two provenances

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Abstract

As a result of predicted regional climatic changes the need to select for the more drought-tolerant genotypes (ecotypes) among Mediterranean conifers has become clear. Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensisMill.) seems to be one of the most drought-tolerant pine species. Nevertheless, the existence of geographical trends in their genetic differentiation indicates potentially large differences in drought-tolerance among provenances. This assumption was verified by the finding of large variation among provenances in their internal water relations. Hence, the aim of this study was to compare the ecophysiological behaviour of several Aleppo pine provenances under contrasting climatic conditions. Growth parameters (height and diameter) and survival rate were measured in two provenance trials, one planted under sub-desertic conditions at the northern edge of the Negev desert, and the second under thermo-Mediterranean climatic conditions in the central coastal plains, Israel. Ecophysiological parameters such as: predawn needle water potential, sap flow in the xylem (i.e. transpiration), photosynthesis and water-use efficiency were measured in trees of selected provenances. The results suggest that it is not possible to predict provenance performance under harsh conditions from their performance under more favourable ones. Therefore, selection must be carried out under the exact conditions in which the trees from the resultant selection will be planted. The present study clearly emphasises the need for broad selection programs of P. halepensis.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.