标题 Xylem hydraulics strongly influence the niche differentiation of tree species along the slope of a river valley in a water-limited area
来源期刊 Plant, cell & environment
摘要 Xylem hydraulic characteristics govern plant water transport, affecting both drought resistance and photosynthetic gas exchange. Therefore, they play critical roles in determining the adaptation of different species to environments with various water regimes. Here, we tested the hypothesis that variation in xylem traits associated with a trade-off between hydraulic efficiency and safety against drought-induced embolism contributes to niche differentiation of tree species along a sharp water availability gradient on the slope of a unique river valley located in a semi-humid area. We found that tree species showed clear niche differentiation with decreasing water availability from the bottom towards the top of the valley. Tree species occupying different positions, in terms of vertical distribution distance from the bottom of the valley, showed a strong trade-off between xylem water transport efficiency and safety, as evidenced by variations in xylem structural traits at both the tissue and pit levels. This optimised their xylem hydraulics in their respective water regimes. Thus, the trade-off between hydraulic efficiency and safety contributes to clear niche differentiation and, thereby, to the coexistence of tree species in the valley with heterogeneous water availability.