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Within-Site Variability of Liana Wood Anatomical Traits: A Case Study in Laussat, French Guiana

Article

Meunier, F; Moorthy, SMK; De Deurwaerder, HPT; Kreus, R; Van den Bulcke, J; Lehnebach, R; Verbeeck, H

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2020

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11

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Research Highlights:We investigated the variability of vessel diameter distributions within the liana growth form among liana individuals originating from a single site in Laussat, French Guiana.Background and Objectives:Lianas (woody vines) are key components of tropical forests. Lianas are believed to be strong competitors for water, thanks to their presumed efficient vascular systems. However, unlike tropical trees, lianas are overlooked in field data collection. As a result, lianas are often referred to as a homogeneous growth form while little is known about the hydraulic architecture variation among liana individuals.Materials and Methods:We measured several wood hydraulic and structural traits (e.g., basic specific gravity, vessel area, and vessel diameter distribution) of 22 liana individuals in a single sandy site in Laussat, French Guiana. We compared the liana variability of these wood traits and the correlations among them with an existing liana pantropical dataset and two published datasets of trees originating from different, but species-rich, tropical sites.Results:Liana vessel diameter distribution and density were heterogeneous among individuals: there were two orders of magnitude difference between the smallest (4 mu m) and the largest (494 mu m) vessel diameters, a 50-fold difference existed between extreme vessel densities ranging from 1.8 to 89.3 vessels mm(-2), the mean vessel diameter varied between 26 mu m and 271 mu m, and the individual theoretical stem hydraulic conductivity estimates ranged between 28 and 1041 kg m(-1)s(-1)MPa(-1). Basic specific gravity varied between 0.26 and 0.61. Consequently, liana wood trait variability, even within a small sample, was comparable in magnitude with tree surveys from other tropical sites and the pantropical liana dataset.Conclusions:This study illustrates that even controlling for site and soil type, liana traits are heterogeneous and cannot be considered as a homogeneous growth form. Our results show that the liana hydraulic architecture heterogeneity across and within sites warrants further investigation in order to categorize lianas into functional groups in the same way as trees

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