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Title: Plant functional groups within a tropical forest exhibit different wood functional anatomy
Keywords: Plant functional anatomy
Plant hydraulic strategies
Tropical plant life‐forms
Tropical rain forest
Wood anatomical traits
Wood functions
Xylem conductivity
Issue Date: Mar-2017
Publisher: British Ecological Society
Citation: APGAUA, D. M. G. et al. Plant functional groups within a tropical forest exhibit different wood functional anatomy. Functional Ecology, [S.l.], v. 31, n. 3, p. 582-591, Mar. 2017.
Abstract: Understanding the anatomical basis of plant water transport in forest ecosystems is crucial for contextualizing community‐level adaptations to drought, especially in life‐form‐rich tropical forests. To provide this context, we explored wood functional anatomy traits related to plant hydraulic architecture across different plant functional groups in a lowland tropical rain forest. We measured wood traits in 90 species from six functional groups (mature‐phase, understorey and pioneer trees; understorey and pioneer shrubs; vines) and related these traits to intrinsic water‐use efficiency (WUEi) as a measure of physiological performance. We also examined vessel size distribution patterns across groups to determine trade‐offs in theoretical hydraulic safety vs. efficiency. Some plant functional groups exhibited significant differences in vessel parameters and WUEi. Vessel diameters in vines and pioneer trees were two‐ to threefold greater on average than in understorey trees and shrubs. Contrastingly, vessels in understorey trees and shrubs fell within the smaller size classes, suggesting greater safety mechanisms. In addition to these trends, large vessel dimensions were important predictors of WUEi among the functional groups. We conclude that wood functional anatomy profiles varied across plant functional groups in a tropical rain forest. These groups can therefore serve as a framework for further investigations on structure–function relationships and a sound basis for modelling species responses to drought.
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