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    Author(s): H. Jochen Schenk; Christine M. Goedhart; Marisa Nordenstahl; Hugo I. Martinez Cabrera; Cynthia S. Jones
    Date: 2008
    Source: Proceedings of the National Sciences Volume 105 Number 32 11248-11253
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: Download Publication  (480 KB)


    Both engineered hydraulic systems and plant hydraulic systems are protected against failure by resistance, reparability, and redundancy. A basic rule of reliability engineering is that the level of independent redundancy should increase with increasing risk of fatal system failure. Here we show that hydraulic systems of plants function as predicted by this engineering rule. Hydraulic systems of shrubs sampled along two transcontinental aridity gradients changed with increasing aridity from highly integrated to independently redundant modular designs. Shrubs in humid environments tend to be hydraulically integrated, with single, round basal stems, whereas dryland shrubs typically have modular hydraulic systems and multiple, segmented basal stems. Modularity is achieved anatomically at the vessel-network scale or developmentally at the whole-plant scale through asymmetric secondary growth, which results in a semiclonal or clonal shrub growth form that appears to be ubiquitous in global deserts.

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    Schenk, H. Jochen, Espino, Susana; Goedhart, Christine M.; Nordenstahl, Marisa; Cabrera, Hugo I. Martinez; Jones, Cynthia S. 2008. Hydraulic integration and shrub growth form linked across continental aridity gradients. Proceedings of the National Sciences Volume 105 Number 32 11248-11253


    plant hydraulic systems, wood anatomy, hydraulic redundancy, xylem structure and function

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