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Branch xylem density variations across the Amazon Basin

By S. Patiño, J. Lloyd, R. Paiva, T. R. Baker, C. A. Quesada, L. M. Mercado, J. Schmerler, M. Schwarz, A. J. B. Santos, A. Aguilar, C. I. Czimczik, J. Gallo, V. Horna, E. J. Hoyos, E. M. Jimenez, W. Palomino, J. Peacock, A. Peña-Cruz, C. Sarmiento, A. Sota, J. D. Turriago, B. Villanueva, P. Vitzthum, E. Alvarez, L. Arroyo, C. Baraloto, D. Bonal, J. Chave, A. C. L. Costa, R. Herrera, N. Higuchi, T. Killeen, E. Leal, F. Luizão, P. Meir, A. Monteagudo, D. Neil, P. Núñez-Vargas, M. C. Peñuela, N. Pitman, N. Priante Filho, A. Prieto, S. N. Panfil, A. Rudas, R. Salomão, N. Silva, M. Silveira, S. Soares de Almeida, A. Torres-Lezama, R. Vásquez-Martínez, I. Vieira, Y. Malhi and O. L. Phillips


Xylem density is a physical property of wood that varies between individuals, species and environments. It reflects the physiological options of trees that lead to growth, survival and reproduction. Measurements of branch xylem density, ρx, were made for 1653 trees representing 598 species, sampled from 87 sites across the Amazon basin. Measured values ranged from 218 kg m-3 for a Cordia sagotii (Boraginaceae) from Mountaigne de Tortue, French Guiana to 1130 kg m-3 for an Aiouea sp. (Lauraceae) from Caxiuana, Central Pará, Brazil. Analysis of variance showed significant differences in average ρx across regions and sampled plots as well as significant differences between families, genera and species. A partitioning of the total variance in the dataset showed that species identity (family, genera and species) accounted for 33 % with environment (geographic location and plot) accounting for an additional 26 %; the remaining “residual” variance accounted for 41 %. Variations in plot means, were, however, not only accountable by differences in species composition because xylem density of the most widely distributed species in our dataset varied systematically from plot to plot. Thus, as well as having a genetic component branch xylem density is a plastic trait that, for any given species, varies according to where the tree is growing and in a predictable manner. Within the analysed taxa, exceptions to this general rule seem to be some pioneer species belonging for example to Urticaceae and Vochysiaceae whose branch xylem density is more constrained than most species sampled in this study. Variation of branch xylem density across Amazonia suggests a large functional diversity among Amazonian trees which is not well understood. \ud \u

Publisher: Copernicus EGU
Year: 2009
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