The limits to tree height

  title={The limits to tree height},
  author={George W. Koch and Stephen C. Sillett and Gregory M. Jennings and Stephen D. Davis},
Trees grow tall where resources are abundant, stresses are minor, and competition for light places a premium on height growth. The height to which trees can grow and the biophysical determinants of maximum height are poorly understood. Some models predict heights of up to 120 m in the absence of mechanical damage, but there are historical accounts of taller trees. Current hypotheses of height limitation focus on increasing water transport constraints in taller trees and the resulting reductions… 

The hydraulic limitation hypothesis revisited.

It is concluded that hydraulic limitation of gas exchange with increasing tree size is common, but not universal, and any limit to height or height growth does not appear to be related to the so-called age-related decline in wood production of forests after canopy closure.

Predicting the limits to tree height using statistical regressions of leaf traits.

This work showed that height predictions were sensitive to tree-to-tree variation in the shape of the regression and to the biophysical endpoints selected, and noted that site and environment influenced height predictions considerably.

Growth maximization trumps maintenance of leaf conductance in the tallest angiosperm

The results support a theoretical model proposing that, in the face of increasing hydraulic constraints with height, whole-tree growth is maximized by a resource trade-off that increases L to maximize light capture rather than by reducing L/S to sustain gs.

Reducing stem bending increases the height growth of tall pines.

Analysis of bending moment and basal area increment showed that the amount of wood added to the stem was closely related to the bending moment produced at these heights, in both control and tethered trees, which strongly suggests that mechanical constraints play a crucial role in limiting the height growth of tall trees.

Pushing the limits to tree height: could foliar water storage compensate for hydraulic constraints in Sequoia sempervirens?

Evidence is shown of foliar water storage as a mechanism that could partially compensate for hydraulic constraints and sustain turgor for both photosynthesis and height growth in Sequoia sempervirens, the tallest species.

Low mortality in tall tropical trees

The findings suggest that height- specific dynamics may be surprisingly different from traditional diameter-specific dynamics, emphasizing the importance of extending ecological studies to investigate the role of tree height in forest dynamics.

Comparative hydraulic and anatomic properties in palm trees (Washingtonia robusta) of varying heights: implications for hydraulic limitation to increased height growth

Findings are consistent with hydraulic compensation in that tall palms may be overcoming the increased path length resistance through smaller, more efficient leaves and lower leaf water potentials than shorter palms.

Hydraulic limitation on maximum height of Pinus strobus trees in northern Minnesota, USA

Key messageUsing comparisons within and between trees, the authors show evidence for hydraulic limitation of tree height in a humid-climate species that is far from the global maximum tree

Effect Of Height On Tree Hydraulic Conductance Incompletely Compensated By Xylem Tapering

The data available for testing this hypothesis are limited, but they do not support the implication that whole-tree and leaf-specific hydraulic conductance are generally independent of tree height, and cannot exclude hydraulic limitation as the principle mechanism for the observed decline in growth.

Tree height effects on vascular anatomy of upper-canopy twigs across a wide range of tropical rainforest species

Vessel diameter variation along the hydraulic pathway determines how much water can be moved against the force of gravity from roots to leaves. While it is well-documented that tree size scales



The Adaptive Significance of Tree Height

  • D. A. King
  • Environmental Science
    The American Naturalist
  • 1990
The general success of the model in explaining patterns of tree growth suggests that competition for light is the primary factor responsible for the evolution and maintenance of the arboreal life form.

The Prediction and Physiological Significance of Tree Height

In this chapter the potential limits on the maximum height of trees are examined with a view toward making maximum height predictable from biological and physical principles. The maximum height of

An investigation of hydraulic limitation and compensation in large, old Douglas-fir trees.

The formal hydraulic limitation hypothesis was not supported and without the observed increases in the soil-to-leaf water potential differential (DeltaPsi) and decreases in the leaf area/sapwood area ratio, kl would have been reduced by more than 70% in the 60-m trees compared with the 15-m Trees, instead of the observed decrease of 44%.

Evidence of Reduced Photosynthetic Rates in Old Trees

Results showed that net photosynthesis per unit area of 1-yr-old foliage from old Pinus contorta and P. ponderosa averaged 14-30% lower than the same-aged foliage from younger trees, suggesting a greater stomatal limitation of photosynthesis in older trees.

Hydraulic Limits to Tree Height and Tree Growth

What determines the height to which a tree will grow in a particular region and climate is examined and mechanisms for growth including respiration hypothesis, nutrient limitation hypothesis, maturation hypothesis and the hydraulic limitation hypothesis are examined.

Foliage physiology and biochemistry in response to light gradients in conifers with varying shade tolerance

There was no evidence that the actual allocation pattern was optimized on the basis of PPFD gradients alone; simulated net carbon assimilation increased still further when even more N and C were allocated to high-light environments at the canopy top.

An analysis of light effects on foliar morphology, physiology, and light interception in temperate deciduous woody species of contrasting shade tolerance.

It is concluded that leaf morphological plasticity is a more relevant determinant of foliage adaptation to high irradiance than foliage biochemical properties, whereas biochemical adaptation to low irradiance is of the same magnitude as the anatomical adjustments.

Water Relations of Plants and Soils

This book is a useful introduction for students, teachers, and investigators in both basic and applied plant science, including botanists, crop scientists, foresters, horticulturists, soil scientists, and even gardeners and farmers who desire a better understanding of how their plants grow.

Leaf δ13C variability with elevation, slope aspect, and precipitation in the southwest United States

It is hypothesized that, in summer-wet areas, this may represent the boundary at which drought stress overtakes other factors in determining the sign of δ13Cleaf with elevation, and the opposition of isotopic trends with elevation in arid versus humid regions cautions against standard correction for elevation in comparative studies ofδ 13Cleaf.