Diversity of hydraulic traits in nine Cordia species growing in tropical forests with contrasting precipitation


Author for correspondence:Brendan Choat Tel: +1 530 7527185 Fax: +1 530 7520382 Email: bchoat@ucdavis.edu


  • • Inter- and intraspecific variation in hydraulic traits was investigated in nine Cordia (Boraginaceae) species growing in three tropical rainforests differing in mean annual precipitation (MAP).
  • • Interspecific variation was examined for the different Cordia species found at each site, and intraspecific variation was studied in populations of the widespread species Cordia alliodora across the three sites.
  • • Strong intra- and interspecific variation were observed in vulnerability to drought-induced embolism. Species growing at drier sites were more resistant to embolism than those growing at moister sites; the same pattern was observed for populations of C. alliodora. By contrast, traits related to hydraulic capacity, including stem xylem vessel diameter, sapwood specific conductivity (Ks) and leaf specific conductivity (KL), varied strongly but independently of MAP. For C. alliodora, xylem anatomy, Ks, KL and Huber value varied little across sites, with Ks and KL being consistently high relative to other Cordia species.
  • • A constitutively high hydraulic capacity coupled with plastic or genotypic adjustment in vulnerability to embolism and leaf water relations would contribute to the ability of C. alliodora to establish and compete across a wide precipitation gradient.