Oecologia

, Volume 126, Issue 4, pp 457–461

Trends in wood density and structure are linked to prevention of xylem implosion by negative pressure

  • Uwe G. Hacke
  • John S. Sperry
  • William T. Pockman
  • Stephen D. Davis
  • Katherine A. McCulloh
Article

Abstract

Wood density (Dt), an excellent predictor of mechanical properties, is typically viewed in relation to support against gravity, wind, snow, and other environmental forces. In contrast, we show the surprising extent to which variation in Dt and wood structure is linked to support against implosion by negative pressure in the xylem pipeline. The more drought-tolerant the plant, the more negative the xylem pressure can become without cavitation, and the greater the internal load on the xylem conduit walls. Accordingly, Dt was correlated with cavitation resistance. This trend was consistent with the maintenance of a safety factor from implosion by negative pressure: conduit wall span (b) and thickness (t) scaled so that (t/b)2 was proportional to cavitation resistance as required to avoid wall collapse. Unexpectedly, trends in Dt may be as much or more related to support of the xylem pipeline as to support of the plant.

Keywords

Wood density Xylem cavitation Water transport Ecological wood anatomy Hydraulic architecture 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Uwe G. Hacke
    • 1
  • John S. Sperry
    • 1
  • William T. Pockman
    • 2
  • Stephen D. Davis
    • 3
  • Katherine A. McCulloh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, 257S 1400EUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  3. 3.Natural Science DivisionPepperdine UniversityMalibuUSA

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