Morphological and physiological divergences within Quercus ilex support the existence of different ecotypes depending on climatic dryness

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2014
Authors:J. Javier Peguero-Pina, Sancho-Knapik, D., Barrón, E., Camarero, J. Jesús, Vilagrosa, A., Gil-Pelegrín, E.
Journal:Annals of BotanyAnnals of Botany
Date Published:August 1, 2014

Background and Aims Several studies show apparently contradictory findings about the functional convergence within the Mediterranean woody flora. In this context, this study evaluates the variability of functional traits within holm oak (Quercus ilex) to elucidate whether provenances corresponding to different morphotypes represent different ecotypes locally adapted to the prevaling stress levels.Methods Several morphological and physiological traits were measured at leaf and shoot levels in 9-year-old seedlings of seven Q. ilex provenances including all recognized morphotypes. Plants were grown in a common garden for 9 years under the same environmental conditions to avoid possible biases due to site-specific characteristics.Key Results Leaf morphometry clearly separates holm oak provenances into ‘ilex’ (more elongated leaves with low vein density) and ‘rotundifolia’ (short and rounded leaves with high vein density) morphotypes. Moreover, these morphotypes represent two consistent and very contrasting functional types in response to dry climates, mainly in terms of leaf area, major vein density, leaf specific conductivity, resistance to drought-induced cavitation and turgor loss point.Conclusions The ‘ilex’ and ‘rotundifolia’ morphotypes correspond to different ecotypes as inferred from their contrasting functional traits. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that the combined use of morphological and physiological traits has provided support for the concept of these two holm oak morphotypes being regarded as two different species.

Short Title:Annals of Botany
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith