Abstract

We studied changes in the hydraulic conductance of leaves (Kleaf) between dawn and dusk during the growth period (July) and at midday at the beginning of autumn in four tree species. The main objectives of the study were to check the extent of diurnal and seasonal changes in Kleaf and the relationships between Kleaf, irradiance and leaf gas exchange. Two evergreen (Aleurites moluccana and Persea americana) and two deciduous trees (Platanus orientalis and Quercus rubra) were studied. Leaf hydraulic conductance was measured every 2 h between 0700 and 1900 h in July and compared with values measured between 0900 and 1300 h in October. Other variables measured were photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), leaf conductance to water vapor (gL) and water potential (ΨL). In July, Kleaf varied by up to 75% in Pe. americana on a diurnal basis and by at least 44% in Q. rubra. The diurnal time course of Kleaf showed a distinct increase between dawn and late morning (1100 h) and a subsequent decrease in the evening in A. moluccana and Pl. orientalis, whereas in the other two species, Kleaf was highest just after dawn and lowest in the evening. In October, Kleaf of all the species studied was lower than in July, with differences of 20 to 28% for A. moluccana and Pl. orientalis and of 66 to over 70% in Pe. americana and Q. rubra, respectively. Significant correlations were found between PAR and Kleaf (in all species) as well as between gL and Kleaf (in three out of four species). Leaf habit (evergreen or deciduous) did not influence absolute values of Kleaf or its diurnal variation.