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Is the WBE model appropriate for semi-arid shrubs subjected to clear cutting ?

  • Bil-Assanou Issoufou, H.
  • Rambal, S.
  • Le Dantec, V.
  • Oi, Monique
  • Laurent, J.P.
  • Saadou, M.
  • Seghieri, Josiane
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2015
Horizon / Pleins textes
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It is crucial to understand the adaptive mechanisms of woody plants facing periodic drought to assess their vulnerability to the increasing climate variability predicted in the Sahel. Guiera senegalensis J.F.Gmel is a semi-evergreen Combretaceae commonly found in Sahelian rangelands, fallows and crop fields because of its value as an agroforestry species. We compared canopy leafing, and allometric measurements of leaf area, stem area and stem length and their relationships with leaf water potential, stomatal conductance (gs) and soil-to-leaf hydraulic conductance (KS-L), in mature and current-year resprouts of G. senegalensis in Sahelian Niger. In mature shrubs, seasonal drought reduced the ratio of leaf area to cross-sectional stem area (AL : AS), mainly due to leaf shedding. The canopy of the current-year resprouts remained permanently leafed as the shrubs produced leaves and stems continuously, and their AL : AS ratio increased throughout the dry season. Their KS–L increased, whereas gs decreased. West, Brown and Enquist's (WBE) model can thus describe allometric trends in the seasonal life cycle of undisturbed mature shrubs, but not that of resprouts. Annual clear cutting drives allometric scaling relationships away from theoretical WBE predictions in the current-year resprouts, with scaling exponents 2.5 times greater than those of mature shrubs. High KS-L (twice that of mature shrubs) supports this intensive regeneration process. The adaptive strategy described here is probably common to many woody species that have to cope with both severe seasonal drought and regular disturbance over the long term.

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