Xylem conductivity after mechanical damage

Vessel size and density are known to adjust in broadleaf plants after mechanical damage to stem or roots. This significantly alters the hydraulic conductivity of xylem and transpiration capacity of the tree. Tumajer and Treml perform experiments with Silver birches, Betula pendula (Betulaceae), which were mechanically treated to simulate natural disturbances (e.g., landslide, windstorm, flood).

Xylem conductivity abruptly decreases after the treatment in decapitated, tilted and scarred trees. The intensity of damage response significantly outweighed the effects of climate and tree ageing on wood anatomical structure. The results show that increased frequency and severity of forest disturbances might significantly affect temperate forests.

Further reading

Tumajer, J., & Treml, V. (2018). Disentangling the effects of disturbance, climate and tree age on xylem hydraulic conductivity of Betula pendula. Annals of Botany, 123(5), 783–792. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcy209