Patterns and consequences of differential vascular sectoriality in 18 temperate tree and shrub species


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  • 1Resource delivery within plants depends on supply pathways. Some species have relatively constrained (sectored) vascular connections, while others have relatively unconstrained (integrated) vascular connections.
  • 2In this study, patterns of vascular hydraulic sectoriality, anatomy and ecological tolerance were examined for 18 Northern Hemisphere temperate woody species growing at Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA, USA. A hydraulic technique was used to measure axial and tangential conductivity on branch segments. From a ratio of these values, a sectoriality index was calculated.
  • 3Species that were more hydraulically sectored had greater vessel size, variation in vessel area and tangential nearest-neighbour distance, as well as lower vessel density, than did integrated species.
  • 4Ecologically, higher tolerance to drought and wind was correlated with being sectored, while higher tolerance to flood and shade was correlated with being integrated.
  • 5These results suggest that sectored species should be especially prominent in xeric environments where sectoriality may reduce embolism spread by minimizing vessel-to-vessel contact and pitting, and integrated species should be especially prominent when resources are spatially patchy or heterogeneous.