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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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For the first time, a comparison of 5 methods for measuring embolism resistance in trees is published.

Short vessel species
This work was carried out as part of a collaboration within the framework of LIA Forestia between INRAE and INTA.

Vulnerability to drought-induced embolism is a key trait shaping drought resilience and could be increasingly used to design climate-smart forest management guidelines and to anticipate the outcomes of climate change on population dynamics and ecosystem functioning. A range of methods is currently available to measure resistance to embolism. It is therefore essential to determine precisely which methods are the most appropriate for determining this characteristic. However, the measurement of embolism resistance is sensitive to many artifacts that can lead to large errors for a given species. In addition, not all methods are readily available due to the cost of some large equipment and/or laboratory facilities. The emergence of the pneumatic method, which is easy and inexpensive, makes it possible to produce vulnerability curves at high throughput. However, only a few studies have evaluated the reliability of this method compared to others. In this study, we proposed a comparison of five methods that evaluated embolism resistance in eleven tree species with contrasting anatomy and vessel length (six short vessel angiosperms, two tracheid-bearing conifers and three long vessel angiosperms), covering a large part of the range of embolism resistance observed in trees. Consistent results were obtained with all methods for the short-vessel angiosperms species. In conifer tracheids, the pneumatic method overestimated the susceptibility to embolism. In long-vessel species, the pneumatic method gave inconsistent results with a precise vulnerability to cavitation curves (CC) for one species but led to r-shaped CC with an underestimation of incipient embolism for the other two. Comparison of CC parameters with the point of loss of turgidity is proposed as an indicator of the validity of CCs. The conditions of validity, advantages and disadvantages of the five methods are discussed. The results caution against the widespread use of some methods before rigorous validation tests have been performed.