The adjustment of Prosopis tamarugo hydraulic architecture traits has a homeostatic effect over its performance under descent of phreatic level in the Atacama Desert
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Key message Prosopis tamarugo undergoes several modifications of its hydraulic architecture, which has a homeostatic effect on its performance under descent of phreatic level. Groundwater extraction for mining has generated a large area of descent of phreatic level in the Llamara Salt Flat, Atacama Desert, where Prosopis tamarugo lives as a strict phreatophyte. We study different hydraulic architecture traits of P. tamarugo after 12 years of exposure to a descent of phreatic level of ~ 11 m to assess its acclimation capacity. Under this condition, tree size was reduced making the structure of trees shrubbier. At branch level, leaf shedding increased Huber Value and theoretical leaf-specific hydraulic conductivity. At vascular tissue level, vessel composition decreased significantly due to an increase in vessel density and a slight decrease in mean vessel area. This meant that there were no differences of theoretical sapwood-specific hydraulic conductivity and wood density between conditions of descent of phreatic level. Although the theoretical hydraulic efficiency is high under descent of phreatic level, a lower midday water potential indicates other possible factors that may affect its performance (e.g., microclimate, daily loss of conductivity and a high root resistances). The above is consistent with a higher leaf mass per area of the remaining leaves, but no differences were observed in stomatal conductance, leaf C-13 isotopic composition and predawn water potential between descent condition. While the adjustment of hydraulic architecture traits has a homeostatic effect on P. tamarugo performance, it is necessary to evaluate the limits of its resistance to contribute to its conservation in a context of intervention of its habit, mainly due to demographic growth and non-metallic mining.
Artículo de publicación ISIArtículo de publicación SCOPUS
Quote ItemTrees (2020) 34:89–99
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