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Type: Journal article
Title: Do wide crowns in arid woodland trees reflect hydraulic limitation and reduction of self-shading?
Author: Escoto-Rodriguez, M.
Facelli, J.
Watling, J.
Citation: Functional Plant Biology: an international journal of plant function, 2014; 41(12):1221-1229
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 1445-4408
Statement of
Martín Escoto-Rodríguez, José M. Facelli and Jennifer R. Watling
Abstract: In arid regions many tree species develop broad crowns. A number of hypotheses involve trade-offs between growth in height and horizontal spreading, but there is no explanation for the switch from vertical to horizontal growth during development. Using Acacia papyrocarpa Benth as a model, we measured tree height and crown shape across different sites and topographic positions. We also measured δ13C of phyllodes from crown tops and lateral spreading branches. Trees were significantly taller at the base of a hill, where water availability is typically greater, than on the adjacent steep hillslope. In contrast, δ13C from the treetops was not significantly different across this topographic gradient, despite variation in tree height. In addition, δ13C was higher at treetops than in lower, lateral branches. These observations are consistent with hydraulic limitation to tree height. The shape of mature and young crowns in open environments was not symmetrical. At all sites, branches were shortest, but tree crowns tallest, on south-facing (i.e. shadiest) aspect of crowns. This suggests that light limitation may also affect crown development. If upper branches become water-limited and lower branches light-limited, then middle lateral branches become the less-stressed part of the crown and may grow more, producing a broad crown.
Keywords: broad crown; carbon isotopes composition; crown orientation; hydraulic limitation; hypothesis; stable carbon isotopes; Western myall
Rights: Journal compilation © CSIRO 2014
DOI: 10.1071/FP14022
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 2
Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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