, Volume 140, Issue 4, pp 543–550 | Cite as

Leaf photosynthetic traits scale with hydraulic conductivity and wood density in Panamanian forest canopy trees

  • L. S. Santiago
  • G. Goldstein
  • F. C. Meinzer
  • J. B. Fisher
  • K. Machado
  • D. Woodruff
  • T. Jones


We investigated how water transport capacity, wood density and wood anatomy were related to leaf photosynthetic traits in two lowland forests in Panama. Leaf-specific hydraulic conductivity (kL) of upper branches was positively correlated with maximum rates of net CO2 assimilation per unit leaf area (Aarea) and stomatal conductance (gs) across 20 species of canopy trees. Maximum kL showed stronger correlation with Aarea than initial kL suggesting that allocation to photosynthetic potential is proportional to maximum water transport capacity. Terminal branch kL was negatively correlated with Aarea/gs and positively correlated with photosynthesis per unit N, indicating a trade-off of efficient use of water against efficient use of N in photosynthesis as water transport efficiency varied. Specific hydraulic conductivity calculated from xylem anatomical characteristics (ktheoretical) was positively related to Aarea and kL, consistent with relationships among physiological measurements. Branch wood density was negatively correlated with wood water storage at saturation, kL, Aarea, net CO2 assimilation per unit leaf mass (Amass), and minimum leaf water potential measured on covered leaves, suggesting that wood density constrains physiological function to specific operating ranges. Kinetic and static indices of branch water transport capacity thus exhibit considerable co-ordination with allocation to potential carbon gain. Our results indicate that understanding tree hydraulic architecture provides added insights to comparisons of leaf level measurements among species, and links photosynthetic allocation patterns with branch hydraulic processes.


Leaf nitrogen Leaf specific conductivity Stomatal conductance Tropical forest Xylem anatomy 



We gratefully acknowledge The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) for access to field sites and logistical support; Katy Balatero for field and laboratory assistance; José Herrera and Oscard Saldaña for their patience and skill in operating the canopy crane; Fernando Santos Granero for use of his laboratory and sofa; Pizzeria Napoli for sustenance; and two anonymous reviewers for suggestions that improved the manuscript. This research was supported by NSF grant no. 99-05012 to F.C.M and G.G., a MDC/UM grant to K.M. and G.G, and an EPA STAR Graduate fellowship to L.S.S.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. S. Santiago
    • 1
    • 6
  • G. Goldstein
    • 2
  • F. C. Meinzer
    • 3
  • J. B. Fisher
    • 4
  • K. Machado
    • 2
  • D. Woodruff
    • 5
  • T. Jones
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  3. 3.USDA Forest ServiceForestry Sciences LaboratoryCorvallisUSA
  4. 4.Fairchild Tropical GardensCoral GablesUSA
  5. 5.Department of Forest ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  6. 6.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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