Adjustments and coordination of hydraulic, leaf and stem traits along a water availability gradient

Teresa Rosas, Maurizio Mencuccini, Josep Barba, Hervé Cochard, Sandra Saura-Mas, Jordi Martínez-Vilalta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

87 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust Trait variability in space and time allows plants to adjust to changing environmental conditions. However, we know little about how this variability is distributed and coordinated at different organizational levels. For six dominant tree species in northeastern Spain (three Fagaceae and three Pinaceae) we quantified the inter- and intraspecific variability of a set of traits along a water availability gradient. We measured leaf mass per area (LMA), leaf nitrogen (N) concentration, carbon isotope composition in leaves (δ13C), stem wood density, the Huber value (Hv, the ratio of cross-sectional sapwood area to leaf area), sapwood-specific and leaf-specific stem hydraulic conductivity, vulnerability to xylem embolism (P50) and the turgor loss point (Ptlp). Differences between families explained the largest amount of variability for most traits, although intraspecific variability was also relevant. Species occupying wetter sites showed higher N, P50 and Ptlp, and lower LMA, δ13C and Hv. However, when trait relationships with water availability were assessed within species they held only for Hv and Ptlp. Overall, our results indicate that intraspecific adjustments along the water availability gradient relied primarily on changes in resource allocation between sapwood and leaf area and in leaf water relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-646
JournalNew Phytologist
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • drought
  • Huber value
  • hydraulic traits
  • interspecific variation
  • intraspecific variation
  • leaf economics spectrum
  • turgor loss point
  • water availability


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