Skip to Main Content
The blind men and the elephant: the impact of context and scale in evaluating conflicts between plant hydraulic safety and efficiencyAuthor(s): Frederick C. Meinzer; Katherine A. McCulloh; Barbara Lachenbruch; David R. Woodruff; Daniel M. Johnson
Source: Oecologia. 164: 287-296
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
PDF: View PDF (1.45 MB)
DescriptionGiven the fundamental importance of xylem safety and efficiency for plant survival and fitness, it is not surprising that these are among the most commonly studied features of hydraulic architecture. However, much remains to be learned about the nature and universality of conflicts between hydraulic safety and efficiency. Although selection for suites of hydraulic traits that confer adequate plant fitness under given conditions is likely to occur at the organismal level, most studies of hydraulic architecture have been confined to scales smaller than the whole plant, such as small-diameter branches and roots. Here we discuss the impact of the spatial and temporal contexts in which hydraulic traits are studied on the interpretation of their role in maintaining plant hydraulic function. We argue that further advances in understanding the ecological implications of different suites of plant hydraulic traits will be enhanced by adopting an integrated approach that considers variation in hydraulic traits throughout the entire plant, dynamic behavior of water transport, xylem tension and water transport efficiency in intact plants, alternate mechanisms that modulate hydraulic safety and efficiency, and alternate measures of hydraulic safety and safety margins.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationMeinzer, Frederick C.; McCulloh, Katherine A.; Lachenbruch, Barbara; Woodruff, David R.; Johnson, Daniel M. 2010. The blind men and the elephant: the impact of context and scale in evaluating conflicts between plant hydraulic safety and efficiency. Oecologia. 164: 287-296.
Keywordscapacitance, hydraulic architecture, hydraulic conductivity, xylem embolism, xylem vulnerability
- Transgenic poplars with reduced lignin show impaired xylem conductivity, growth efficiency and survival
- Forest canopy hydraulics
- Xylem hydraulic safety margins in woody plants: coordination of stomatal control of xylem tension with hydraulic capacitance
XML: View XML