Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    In seasonal plant communities where water availability changes dramatically both between and within seasons, understanding the mechanisms that enable plants to exploit water pulses and to survive drought periods is crucial. By measuring rates of physiological processes, we examined the trade-off between water exploitation and drought tolerance among seedlings of trees of a tropical dry forest, and identified biophysical traits most closely associated with plant water-use strategies. We also explored whether early and late secondary successional species occupy different portions of trade-off axes. As predicted, species that maintained carbon capture, hydraulic function and leaf area at higher plant water deficits during drought had low photosynthetic rates, xylem hydraulic conductivity and growth rate under non-limiting water supply. Drought tolerance was associated with more dense leaf, stem and root tissues, whereas rapid resource acquisition was associated with greater stem water storage, larger vessel diameter and larger leaf area per mass invested. We offer evidence that the water exploitation versus drought tolerance trade-off drives species differentiation in the ability of tropical dry forest trees to deal with alternating water-drought pulses. However, we detected no evidence of strong functional differentiation between early and late successional species along the proposed trade-off axes, suggesting that the environmental gradient of water availability across secondary successional habitats in the dry tropics does not filter out physiological strategies of water use among species, at least at the seedling stage.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • 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.


    Pineda-García, Fernando; Paz, Horacio; Meinzer, Frederick C.; Angeles, Guillermo; Goldstein, Guillermo. 2015. Exploiting water versus tolerating drought: water-use strategies of trees in a secondary successional tropical dry forest. Tree Physiology. 36: 208-217.


    Google Scholar


    carbon capture, drought tolerance, exploitation capacity, hydraulic conductivity, resistance to embolisms, trade-off.

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page