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Native trees show conservative water use relative to invasive: results from a removal experiment in a Hawaiian wet forest

Author: Cavaleri, M.A.; Ostertag, R.; Cordell, S.; and Sack, L.;

Date: 2014

Source: Conservation Physiology. 2: 1-14

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: While the supply of freshwater is expected to decline in many regions in the coming decades, invasive plant species, often 'high water spenders', are greatly expanding their ranges worldwide. In this study, we quantified the ecohydrological differences between native and invasive trees and also the effects of woody invasive removal on plot-level water use in a heavily invaded mono-dominant lowland wet tropical forest on the Island of Hawaii. We measured transpiration rates of co-occurring native and invasive tree species with and without woody invasive removal treatments. Twenty native Metrosideros polymorpha and 10 trees each of three invasive species, Cecropia obtusifolia, Macaranga mappa and Melastoma septemnervium, were instrumented with heat-dissipation sap-flux probes in four 100 m2 plots (two invaded, two removal) for 10 months. In the invaded plots, where both natives and invasives were present, Metrosideros had the lowest sap-flow rates per unit sapwood, but the highest sap-flow rates per whole tree, owing to its larger mean diameter than the invasive trees. Stand-level water use within the removal plots was half that of the invaded plots, even though the removal of invasives caused a small but significant increase in compensatory water use by the remaining native trees. By investigating the effects of invasive species on ecohydrology and comparing native vs. invasive physiological traits, we not only gain understanding about the functioning of invasive species, but we also highlight potential water-conservation strategies for heavily invaded mono-dominant tropical forests worldwide. Native-dominated forests free of invasive species can be conservative in overall water use, providing a strong rationale for the control of invasive species and preservation of native-dominated stands.

Keywords: Invaded forest, invasive species removal experiment, lowland wet forest, Metrosideros polymorpha, sap flux, transpiration

Publication Notes:

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Cavaleri, M.A.; Ostertag, R.; Cordell, S.; and Sack, L. 2014. Native trees show conservative water use relative to invasive: results from a removal experiment in a Hawaiian wet forest. Conservation Physiology. 2: 1-14.


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