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Keywords:

  • evolution;
  • independent contrasts;
  • leaf size;
  • Pereskia;
  • stomatal pore index;
  • venation density;
  • water relations;
  • xylem hydraulic conductivity

Summary

  • • 
    Recent studies have demonstrated significant correlations between stem and leaf hydraulic properties when comparing across species within ecological communities. This implies that these traits are co-evolving, but there have been few studies addressing plant water relations within an explicitly evolutionary framework.
  • • 
    This study tests for correlated evolution among a suite of plant water-use traits and environmental parameters in seven species of Pereskia (Cactaceae), using phylogenetically independent contrasts.
  • • 
    There were significant evolutionary correlations between leaf-specific xylem hydraulic conductivity, Huber Value, leaf stomatal pore index, leaf venation density and leaf size, but none of these traits appeared to be correlated with environmental water availability; only two water relations traits – mid-day leaf water potentials and photosynthetic water use efficiency – correlated with estimates of moisture regime.
  • • 
    In Pereskia, it appears that many stem and leaf hydraulic properties thought to be critical to whole-plant water use have not evolved in response to habitat shifts in water availability. This may be because of the extremely conservative stomatal behavior and particular rooting strategy demonstrated by all Pereskia species investigated. These results highlight the need for a lineage-based approach to understand the relative roles of functional traits in ecological adaptation.