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Effect of galls induced by Endocronartium harknessii on stem hydraulic conductivity and growth of lodgepole pine

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To test the hypothesis that galls resulting from infection by western gall rust [Endocronartium harknessii (J. P. Moore) Y. Hiratsuka] on lodgepole pine [Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud.] create hydraulic constrictions that reduce tree growth, the hydraulic conductivity (Kψ; m2 s−1 Pa−1), leaf area (AL) and sapwood area (AS) were measured on 6- to 15-year-old trees having galls encircling 0–100% of the stem. Increases in gall encirclement were accompanied by decreases in Kψ, foliar nitrogen concentration, AL and AS, although the AL:AS ratio remained constant. Dye flow patterns through galled stem sections indicated that water moved primarily through the non-galled portions of the stem. In a second field study, xylem and phloem wounds were applied to 13-year-old galled and non-galled trees on either the galled or non-galled side of the tree. Although both galls and xylem wounds reduced Kψ, radial and height growth were unaffected. In aggregate the two experiments showed that although trees are quite tolerant to small galls and short term reductions in Kψ, the disruption of water movement by larger galls may be sufficient to initiate a chain of events leading to tree death, especially in very dense stands with high levels of intraspecific competition.

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: February 1, 2011


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