Seasonal variation in native hydraulic conductivity between two deciduous oak species

Dilia Mota-Gutiérrez, Guadalupe Arreola-González, Rafael Aguilar-Romero, Horacio Paz, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Ken Oyama, Antonio Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Fernando Pineda-García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims Mechanisms of plant drought resistance include both tolerance and avoidance. Xylem vulnerability to embolism and turgor loss point are considered traits that confer tolerance, while leaf abscission and deciduousness characterizes the avoidance strategy. While these mechanisms are thought to trade-off expressing a continuum among species, little is known on how variation in the timing and duration of leaf shedding in response to drought affect the relationship between xylem and leaf tolerance. In the present study, we explored the extent to which drought tolerance differs between two oak (Quercus) species that exhibit different leaf shedding behaviours. Particularly, we predicted that Q. deserticola Trel., which loses leaves at the end of the dry season (late-deciduous) and is thus exposed to a greater risk of cavitation, would be more drought tolerant and more conservative in its water use than Q. laeta Liebm., which loses its leaves for only a short period of time in the middle of the dry season (brevideciduous). Methods The study was conducted in central Mexico in a single population of each of the two oak species, separated from each other by a distance of 1.58 km, and by an altitudinal difference of 191 m. Quercus deserticola (late deciduous) is more frequent down slope, while Q. laeta (brevideciduous) tends to occur at higher elevations along the gradient. We assessed seasonal differences (rainy versus dry season) in native stem hydraulic conductivity, and tested for variation in xylem vulnerability to cavitation, leaf water use and leaf turgor loss point between the two species. Important Findings The two oak species did not differ in traits conferring drought tolerance, including xylem vulnerability to embolism, leaf turgor loss point, or stomatal conductance. However, both species had different performance during the dry season; the brevideciduous species had lower negative impact in the xylem function than the late-deciduous species. Overall, seasonal changes in plant physiological performance between the two oak species were determined by a reduction in the canopy leaf area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-86
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Plant Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Dirección General de Asuntos de Personal Académico (DGAPA) from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) [Grant no. IA203418 and IA204916 to F.P.G., and IN207417 to A.G.R.].

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Direcci?n General de Asuntos de Personal Acad?mico (DGAPA) from Universidad Nacional Aut?noma de M?xico (UNAM) [Grant no. IA203418 and IA204916 to F.P.G., and IN207417 to A.G.R.].

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Botanical Society of China. All rights reserved.


  • Embolisms
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Leaf phenology
  • Quercus


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