Root hydraulic conductivity and vessel structure modification with increasing soil depth of two oak species: Quercus pubescens and Quercus robur
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There are numerous studies on water transport characteristics of trees from the base to tops, but only few deal with the variation in xylem conduit diameters from shallow to deep roots. This study compares variation in root conduit properties as a function of increasing soil depths for two oak species (Quercus pubescens Willd and Quercus robur L.) growing on two different plots. We measured root vessel characteristics at three soil depths including 0, 50 and 100 cm, and calculated the associated root-specific hydraulic conductivities. Vessel diameter and specific hydraulic conductivity increased with increasing soil depth from 0 to 50 cm, but did not change in the deeper soil layer in both species. We conclude that freeze–thaw events in upper soil layer limit vessel diameters and thus hydraulic conductivity of roots.