A quantitative and statistically robust method for the determination of xylem conduit spatial distribution

Maurizio Mencuccini, Jordi Martinez-Vilalta, Josep Piñol, Lasse Loepfe, Burnat Mireia, Xavier Alvarez, Juan Camacho, Debora Gil

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22 Citations (Web of Science)


Premise of the study: Because of their limited length, xylem conduits need to connect to each other to maintain water transport from roots to leaves. Conduit spatial distribution in a cross section plays an important role in aiding this connectivity. While indices of conduit spatial distribution already exist, they are not well defi ned statistically. Methods: We used point pattern analysis to derive new spatial indices. One hundred and fi ve cross-sectional images from different species were transformed into binary images. The resulting point patterns, based on the locations of the conduit centersof-area, were analyzed to determine whether they departed from randomness. Conduit distribution was then modeled using a spatially explicit stochastic model. Key results: The presence of conduit randomness, uniformity, or aggregation depended on the spatial scale of the analysis. The large majority of the images showed patterns signifi cantly different from randomness at least at one spatial scale. A strong phylogenetic signal was detected in the spatial variables. Conclusions: Conduit spatial arrangement has been largely conserved during evolution, especially at small spatial scales. Species in which conduits were aggregated in clusters had a lower conduit density compared to those with uniform distribution. Statistically sound spatial indices must be employed as an aid in the characterization of distributional patterns across species and in models of xylem water transport. Point pattern analysis is a very useful tool in identifying spatial patterns. © 2010 Botanical Society of America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1247-1259
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2010


  • Geyer
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Point pattern analysis
  • Ripley
  • Spatstat
  • Vessel clusters
  • Xylem anatomy
  • Xylem network


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