Pan-tropically, liana density increases with decreasing rainfall and increasing seasonality. This pattern has led to the hypothesis that lianas display a growth advantage over trees under dry conditions. However, the physiological mechanisms underpinning this hypothesis remain elusive. A key trait influencing leaf and plant drought tolerance is the leaf water potential at turgor loss point (πtlp). πtlp adjusts under drier conditions and this contributes to improved leaf drought tolerance. For co-occurring Amazonian tree (n = 247) and liana (n = 57) individuals measured during the dry and the wet seasons, lianas showed a stronger osmotic adjustment than trees. Liana leaves were less drought-tolerant than trees in the wet season, but reached similar drought tolerances during the dry season. Stronger osmotic adjustment in lianas would contribute to turgor maintenance, a critical prerequisite for carbon uptake and growth, and to the success of lianas relative to trees in growth under drier conditions.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3651860.
- Received October 17, 2016.
- Accepted December 9, 2016.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.