Changes in vessel anatomy in response to mechanical loading in six species of tropical trees

Authors

  • Karen K. Christensen-Dalsgaard,

    1. The University of Manchester, Faculty of Life Sciences, Jackson's Mill, Manchester M60 1QD, UK;
    2. Aarhus University, Department of Biological Sciences, Ny Munkesgade 1540, DK–8000 Aarhus C, Denmark;
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  • Meriem Fournier,

    1. AgroParisTech. ECOFOG. UMR CIRAD-CNRS-ENGREF-INRA-UAG, BP709, 87310 Kourou, French Guiana, France;
    2. AgroParisTech. LERFOB, UMR ENGREF INRA 1092. Ecole Nationale du Genie Rural, des Eaux et Forêts, 14 Avenue Girardet – CS 4216, F–54000 Nancy Cedex, France
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  • Anthony R. Ennos,

    1. The University of Manchester, Faculty of Life Sciences, Jackson's Mill, Manchester M60 1QD, UK;
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  • Anders S. Barfod

    1. Aarhus University, Department of Biological Sciences, Ny Munkesgade 1540, DK–8000 Aarhus C, Denmark;
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Author for correspondence:
Karen K. Christensen-Dalsgaard
Tel: +44 7906591654
Email: karen@cd-mail.dk

Summary

  • • It is well known that trees adapt their supportive tissues to changes in loading conditions, yet little is known about how the vascular anatomy is modified in this process.
  • • We investigated this by comparing more and less mechanically loaded sections in six species of tropical trees with two different rooting morphologies. We measured the strain, vessel size, frequency and area fraction and from this calculated the specific conductivity, then measured the conductivity, modulus of elasticity and yield stress.
  • • The smallest vessels and the lowest vessel frequency were found in the parts of the trees subjected to the greatest stresses or strains. The specific conductivity varied up to two orders of magnitude between mechanically loaded and mechanically unimportant parts of the root system.
  • • A trade-off between conductivity and stiffness or strength was revealed, which suggests that anatomical alterations occur in response to mechanical strain. By contrast, between-tree comparisons showed that average anatomical features for the whole tree seemed more closely related to their ecological strategy.

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