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Keywords:

  • leaf phenology;
  • midday depression in photosynthesis;
  • stem hydraulic capacitance;
  • stem water potential;
  • stomatal regulation

ABSTRACT

Midday depressions in stomatal conductance (gs) and photosynthesis are common in plants. The aim of this study was to understand the hydraulic determinants of midday gs, the coordination between leaf and stem hydraulics and whether regulation of midday gs differed between deciduous and evergreen broadleaf tree species in a subtropical cloud forest of Southwest (SW) China. We investigated leaf and stem hydraulics, midday leaf and stem water potentials, as well as midday gs of co-occurring deciduous and evergreen tree species. Midday gs was correlated positively with midday stem water potential across both groups of species, but not with midday leaf water potential. Species with higher stem hydraulic conductivity and greater daily reliance on stem hydraulic capacitance were able to maintain higher stem water potential and higher gs at midday. Deciduous species exhibited significantly higher stem hydraulic conductivity, greater reliance on stem capacitance, higher stem water potential and gs at midday than evergreen species. Our results suggest that midday gs is more associated with midday stem than with leaf water status, and that the functional significance of stomatal regulation in these broadleaf tree species is probably for preventing stem xylem dysfunction.