Watkins, Jr., James E. , Holbrook, Noel , Zwieniecki, Maciej .
Hydraulic properties of ferns: a novel strategy in the safety-efficiency trade-off?
Water availability is one of the most important aspects shaping plant distributions. As such, it is not surprising that plants have evolved sophisticated water delivery systems to ensure that water is transported both safely and efficiently. Modern day conifers have dealt with this safety-efficiency tradeoff by equipping a relatively primitive tracheid based transport system with derived and highly efficient valves with torus-margo anatomy. Angiosperms solved the safety-efficiency tradeoff in a different way: increasing efficiency via reduction in end wall resistance, and increasing safety by significant increase in conduit diameter. This has been accomplished by transporting water in large multicellular vessels. Ferns are true vascular plants that are sister to seed plants and exhibit yet another strategy to solve this safety-efficiency trade-off. Whereas ferns posses the ability to produce vessels and tracheids with torus-margo pit anatomy, water transport in the leaf relies primarily on a tracheid based vascular system that is free of modified pits. Ferns are not limited to wet habitats and have radiated in to the same drought prone habitats as seed plants. In this study, we attempt to understand fern water relations specifically in regard to the safety-efficiency trade-off. We examine a diverse assemblage of ferns to 1) understand how innovations in xylem anatomy influence hydraulic traits, 2) to evaluate trade-offs between transport safety and efficiency, 3) to understand how these traits influence species distributions.
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1 - Harvard University, Arnold Arboretum, 16 Divinity Ave., Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA
2 - Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Location: Stevens 1/Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Time: 10:15 AM