Root growth and hydraulic conductivity of southern pine seedlings in response to soil temperature and water availability after planting
Comparison of the root system growth and water transport of southern pine species after planting in different root-zone environments is needed to guide decisions regarding when, and what species to plant. Evaluation of how seed source affects root system responses to soil conditions will allow seed sources to be matched to planting conditions. The root growth and hydraulic conductivity of three sources each of shortleaf, loblolly and longleaf pine seedlings were evaluated for 28 days in a seedling growth system that simulated the planting environment. Across species, an increase in root-zone temperature alleviated limitations to root growth caused by water stress. In the coldest temperature, longleaf pine maintained a higher hydraulic conductivity compared to shortleaf and loblolly pine. Without water limitation, the root growth and hydraulic conductivity of shortleaf and lohlolly pine were superior to that of longleaf pine, but as water availability decreased, the root growth of longleaf pine surpassed that of loblolly pine. Hydraulic conductivities of the seed sources differed, and differences were attributed to either new root growth, or an increase in the efficiency of the root system to transport water.