Drought avoidance and the effect of local topography on trees in the understorey of Bornean lowland rain forest

Gibbons, J. M.; Newbery, David McClintock (2003). Drought avoidance and the effect of local topography on trees in the understorey of Bornean lowland rain forest. Plant Ecology, 164(1), pp. 1-18. Springer 10.1023/A:1021210532510

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The water relations of two tree species in the Euphorbiaceae were compared to test in part a hypothesis that the forest understorey plays an integral role in drought response. At Danum, Sabah, the relatively common species Dimorphocalyx muricatus is associated with ridges whilst another species, Mallotus wrayi, occurs widely both on ridges and lower slopes. Sets of subplots within two 4 -ha permanent plots in this lowland dipterocarp rain forest, were positioned on ridges and lower slopes. Soil water potentials were recorded in 1995-1997, and leaf water potentials were measured on six occasions. Soil water potentials on the ridges (-0.047 MPa) were significantly lower than on the lower slopes (-0.012 MPa), but during the driest period in May 1997 they fell to similarly low levels on both sites (-0.53 MPa). A weighted 40-day accumulated rainfall index was developed to model the soil water potentials. At dry times, D. muricatus (ridge) had significantly higher pre-dawn (-0.21 v. -0.57 MPa) and mid-day (-0.59 v. -1.77 MPa) leaf water potentials than M. wrayi (mean of ridge and lower slope). Leaf osmotic potentials of M. wrayi on the ridges were lower (-1.63 MPa) than on lower slopes (-1.09 MPa), with those for D. muricatus being intermediate (-1.29 MPa): both species adjusted osmotically between wet and dry times. D. muricatus trees were more deeply rooted than M. wrayi trees (97 v. 70 cm). M. wrayi trees had greater lateral root cross-sectional areas than D. muricatus trees although a greater proportion of this sectional area for D. muricatus was further down the soil profile. D. muricatus appeared to maintain relatively high water potentials during dry periods because of its access to deeper water supplies and thus it largely avoided drought effects, but M. wrayi seemed to be more affected yet tolerant of drought and was more plastic in its response. The interaction between water availability and topography determines these species' distributions and provides insights into how rain forests can withstand occasional strong droughts.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Vegetation Ecology (discontinued)

UniBE Contributor:

Newbery, David McClintock

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1385-0237

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

15 Aug 2014 13:49

Last Modified:

09 Oct 2015 15:49

Publisher DOI:

10.1023/A:1021210532510

Uncontrolled Keywords:

drought adaptation, leaf water potential, root structure, soil water potential, understorey trees

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.53829

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/53829

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