Vulnerability to drought-induced cavitation of riparian cottonwoods in Alberta: a possible factor in the decline of the ecosystem?

Tree Physiol. 1994 May;14(5):455-66. doi: 10.1093/treephys/14.5.455.


Vulnerability of xylem to loss of hydraulic conductivity caused by drought-induced cavitation was determined for three riparian cottonwood species in Lethbridge, Alberta: Populus deltoides Bartr., P. balsamifera L., and P. angustifolia James. These species suffered 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity in one-year-old stem segments when xylem pressure potential fell to -0.7 MPa for P. deltoides and -1.7 MPa for P. balsamifera and P. angustifolia, making them the three most vulnerable tree species reported so far in North America. The possible contribution of drought-induced xylem dysfunction to the decline of riparian ecosystems in dammed rivers is discussed.