Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 1701–1710 | Cite as

Functional coordination between branch hydraulic properties and leaf functional traits in miombo woodlands: implications for water stress management and species habitat preference

  • Royd VinyaEmail author
  • Yadvinder Malhi
  • Nick Brown
  • Joshua B. Fisher
Original Paper


We investigated functional coordination between branch hydraulic properties and leaf functional traits among nine miombo woodlands canopy tree species differing in habitat preference and phenology. Specifically, we were seeking to answer the question: are branch hydraulic properties coordinated with leaf functional traits linked to plant drought tolerance in seasonally dry tropical forests and what are the implications for species habitat preference? The hydraulic properties investigated in this study were stem area specific hydraulic conductivity (K S), Huber value (H v), and xylem cavitation vulnerability (Ψ50). The leaf functional traits measured were specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), and mean leaf area (MLA). Generalists displayed significantly (P < 0.05) higher cavitation resistance (Ψ50) and SLA, but lower sapwood specific hydraulic conductivity (K S), leaf specific conductivity (K L), MLA, and LDMC than mesic specialists. Although MLA was uncorrelated with Ψ50, we found significant (P < 0.05) positive and negative correlations between plant hydraulic properties and leaf functional traits linked to plant drought tolerance ability, indicating that the interactions between branch hydraulics and leaf functional traits related to plant drought tolerance ability may influence tree species habitat preference in water-limited ecosystems.


Huber value Leaf dry matter content Miombo woodlands Specific leaf area Stem area specific hydraulic conductivity Xylem cavitation 



The lead author was funded by a scholarship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Copperbelt University. We wish to thank the late Principal for Zambia Forestry College Saxon, Nyela Siame, who provided laboratory space at the wet miombo site. The District Forestry Officer for Choma District, Jones Mulomba, is greatly appreciated for his logistical support during our stay on the dry site. Laboratory assistants in Zambia, Milimo Miyoba and Metson Kasowe, are also acknowledged. The comments by two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the structure of this manuscript, for which we remain greatly indebted.


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Royd Vinya
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yadvinder Malhi
    • 2
  • Nick Brown
    • 3
  • Joshua B. Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Natural ResourcesCopperbelt UniversityKitweZambia
  2. 2.Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Plant Sciences DepartmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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