Sea-level rise and anthropogenic activity promote salinity incursion into many tidal freshwater forested wetlands. Interestingly, individual trees can persist for decades after salt impact. To understand why, we documented sapflow (Js), reduction in Js with sapwood depth, and water use (F) of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.) trees undergoing exposure to salinity. The mean Js of individual trees was reduced by 2.8 g H2O??m-2??s-1 (or by 18%) in the outer sapwood on a saline site versus a freshwater site; however, the smallest trees, present only on the saline site, also registered the lowest Js. Hence, tree size significantly influenced the overall site effect on Js. Trees undergoing perennial exposure to salt used greater relative amounts of water in outer sapwood than in inner sapwood depths, which identifies a potentially different strategy for baldcypress trees coping with saline site conditions over decades. Overall, individual trees used 100 kg H2O??day-1 on a site that remained relatively fresh versus 23.9 kg H2O??day-1 on the saline site. We surmise that perennial salinization of coastal freshwater forests forces shifts in individual-tree osmotic balance and water-use strategy to extend survival time on suboptimal sites, which further influences growth and morphology.
Additional publication details
Sapflow and water use of freshwater wetland trees exposed to saltwater incursion in a tidally influenced South Carolina watershed