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Stomatal structure and physiology do not explain differences in water use among montane eucalypts

TitleStomatal structure and physiology do not explain differences in water use among montane eucalypts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsGharun, M, Turnbull, TL, Pfautsch, S, Adams, MA
Start Page1171
Date Published04/2015

Understanding the regulation of water use at the whole-tree scale is critical to advancing the utility of physiological ecology, for example in its role in predictive hydrology of forested catchments. For three eucalypt species that dominate high-elevation catchments in south-eastern Australia, we examined if whole-tree water use could be related to three widely discussed regulators of water use: stomatal anatomy, sensitivity of stomata [i.e. stomatal conductance (gs)] to environmental influences, and sapwood area. While daily tree water use varied sixfold among species, sap velocity and sapwood area varied in parallel. Combined, stomatal structure and physiology could not explain differences in species-specific water use. Species which exhibited the fastest (Eucalyptus delegatensis) and slowest (Eucalyptus pauciflora) rates of water use both exhibited greater capacity for physiological control of gs[indicated by sensitivity to vapour pressure deficit (VPD)] and a reduced capacity to limit gsanatomically [indicated by greater potential gs (gmax)]. Conversely, gs was insensitive to VPD and gmax was lowest for Eucalyptus radiata, the species showing intermediate rates of water use. Improved knowledge of stomatal anatomy will help us to understand the capacity of species to regulate leaf-level water loss, but seems likely to remain of limited use for explaining rates of whole-tree water use in montane eucalypts at the catchment scale.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
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