Salinity tolerance along an aridity gradient: linking physiological processes with morphological constraints on leaf function in mangroves
We are studying interrelationships between salinity tolerance and the functional coordination of plant hydraulics, leaf morphology and gas exchange characteristics in mangroves.
Mangrove forests are of great importance to sustained economic activity and productivity of the coastal zone, but little is understood about mechanisms underpinning their ability to span gradients in salinity and aridity. The project combines cutting edge physiological measurements and biological imaging techniques to determine 1) how vascular transport networks in leaves and stems are optimized to balance hydraulic efficiency and safety, and 2) how stomatal behaviour is co-ordinated with shoot hydraulic properties to maximise carbon gain with minimal water loss. These aims are fundamental to understanding how functional traits constrain mangrove growth across environmental gradients and to managing mangrove resources with changing climate.
This project was conducted in collaboration with Dr Brendan Choat, Dr Catherine Lovelock (University of Queensland), and Dr Lawren Sack (University of California, Los Angeles) and is funded by ARC Discovery Grant DP1096749.