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Hydraulic traits of deciduous tree species: Do lessons learned from arid climates translate to eastern US temperate forests?
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  • Michael Benson,
  • Chelcy Miniat,
  • Andrew Oishi,
  • Sander Denham,
  • Jean-Christophe Domec,
  • Daniel Johnson,
  • Justine Missik,
  • Richard Phillips,
  • Jeffrey Wood,
  • Kimberly Novick
Michael Benson
Indiana University System
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Chelcy Miniat
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory.
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Andrew Oishi
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory
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Sander Denham
Indiana University System
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Jean-Christophe Domec
Bordeaux Sciences Agro
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Daniel Johnson
University of Georgia
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Justine Missik
Washington State University
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Richard Phillips
Indiana University
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Jeffrey Wood
University of Missouri
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Kimberly Novick
Indiana University
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Abstract

The coordination of plant leaf water potential (ΨL) regulation and xylem vulnerability to embolism is fundamental for understanding the tradeoffs between carbon uptake and risk of hydraulic damage. A legacy of observations in drylands suggests plants with vulnerable xylem more carefully regulate ΨL than plants with resistant xylem. We synthesized over 1600 ΨL observations, 122 xylem embolism curves, and xylem anatomical measurements of Quercus alba L., Liriodendron tulipifera L., and Acer saccharum Marsh. across ten contrasting forests to evaluate if the paradigm linking conservative ΨL regulation to vulnerable xylem applies to temperate deciduous trees. Additionally, we explored generalizable patterns of hydraulic trait acclimation in relation to forest age and climate. Contrary to the dryland paradigm, we found that the tree species with the most vulnerable xylem (e.g., Q. alba) regulated ΨL less strictly (anisohydric behavior) than the species with xylem more resistant to embolism (e.g., A. saccharum and L. tulipifera). This relationship was found across all sites, suggesting coordination among traits was largely unaffected spatio-temporal factors. Our findings indicate drought-response traits of temperate deciduous forest species are coordinated in fundamentally different ways than vegetation in arid climates.