Indications of Hydraulic Lift by Pinus halepensis and Its Effects on the Water Relations of Neighbour Shrubs
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We measured the stable deuterium isotopic composition of xylem sap, the shoot predawn and midday water potentials, and the leaf δ13C of Mediterranean shrubs Pistacia lentiscus, Globularia alypum and Rosmarinus officinalis in a south-oriented transect from a large (12 m tall) Aleppo pine tree, Pinus halepensis. We aimed to study the possibility of hydraulic lift from the deep roots of this pine tree to the shallow soil layers and its influence on these neighbour shrubs. These same traits were also studied in several individuals of the shrub Pistacia lentiscus growing with different types of neighbours: just shrubs, a small (3 – 4 m) pine tree, and the above mentioned large pine tree. The greater the distance from P. halepensis the plants grew, the higher xylem water δD, the lower the soil water content, and, the lower the predawn and midday water potentials were found. These results suggest the existence of an hydraulic lift from deep roots to shallow soil in this big tree. Further indication of this existence is provided by the improved water status of P. lentiscus (higher water potentials and δD, and lower δ13C and, therefore, lower water use efficiencies) when growing close to the big pine in comparison with the same shrub species growing close to small pines or just surrounded by other shrubs. Moreover, all these trends occurred in the dry summer season, but disappeared in the wet spring season.
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