Long-and short-term flooding effects on survival and sink-source relationships of swamp-adapted tree species
About 95% of swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora (Walt.) Sarg.) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.) seedlings survived continuous root flooding for more than two years, whereas none of the swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii Nutt.) and cherrybark oak (Q. falcata var. pagodifolia Ell.) seedlings survived one year of flooding. Death of oak seedlings occurred in phases associated with periods of major vegetative growth, e.g., after bud burst in spring, after summer stem elongation, and during the winter deciduous stage, suggesting that stored reserves and sources were inadequate to maintain the seedlings when vegetative sinks were forming. Additional evidence that flooding induced a source deficiency in oak was that leaves of flooded oak were 65 to 75% smaller than leaves of nonflooded oak. Flooded swamp tupelo seedlings had a normal leaf size and patchy stomatal opening compared with nonflooded seedlings.
Flooding caused increases in alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) specific activity in taproot cambial tissues and increases in starch concentrations of swamp tupelo seedlings that were reversed when seedlings were removed from flooding. Flooding had little effect on soluble sugar concentrations in swamp tupelo or sweetgum. In the long-term flood–dry–flood treatment, in which all species had survivors, upper canopy leaf photosynthetic rates were higher in all species during the dry period than in nonflooded controls, whereas their starch and soluble sugars concentrations were similar to those of nonflooded controls. Based on seedling survival and the sink–source relationships, the order of flood tolerance was: swamp tupelo > sweetgum > swamp chestnut oak > cherrybark oak.