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Water relations and gas exchange of tropical saplings during a prolonged drought in a Bornean heath forest, with reference to root architecture

  • Kun-fang Cao (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Leaf water and osmotic potentials and gas exchange were monitored during a prolonged El Niño drought in 1998 for saplings of seven species in a Bornean heath forest and compared with measurements taken during a subsequent wet period. The four dipterocarp species maintained reasonably good water status throughout the drought, especially Dipterocarpus borneensis which had thick and deep tap roots. In contrast, two of three non-dipterocarp species, Cleistanthus baramicus and Tristaniopsis obovata displayed predawn leaf water potentials approaching their turgor-loss points. During the drought, all species except D. borneensis displayed strongly reduced stomatal conductance after a brief exposure to sun, and all displayed lower maximum rates of stomatal conductance and net photosynthesis than during the wet period. Only Cotylelobium burckii displayed significant osmotic acclimation to the drought. T. obovata possessing a superficial root system suffered a high mortality due to the drought, but recovered faster after the first rains than the other species all of which had tap roots. Deep roots and strong stomatal control favour trees in tropical heath forests where water deficits probably occur regularly.

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Water relations and gas exchange of tropical saplings during a prolonged drought in a Bornean heath forest, with reference to root architecture

  • Kun-fang Cao (a1) (a2)

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