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Oecologia. 2007 Nov;154(1):85-93. Epub 2007 Jul 31.

Population structure, physiology and ecohydrological impacts of dioecious riparian tree species of western North America.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA. hultine@biology.utah.edu


The global water cycle is intimately linked to vegetation structure and function. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the arid west where riparian forests serve as ribbons of productivity in otherwise mostly unproductive landscapes. Dioecy is common among tree species that make up western North American riparian forests. There are intrinsic physiological differences between male and female dioecious riparian trees that may influence population structure (i.e., the ratio of male to female trees) and impact ecohydrology at large scales. In this paper, we review the current literature on sex ratio patterns and physiology of dioecious riparian tree species. Then develop a conceptual framework of the mechanisms that underlie population structure of dominant riparian tree species. Finally, we identify linkages between population structure and ecohydrological processes such as evapotranspiration and streamflow. A more thorough understanding of the mechanisms that underlie population structure of dominant riparian tree species will enable us to better predict global change impacts on vegetation and water cycling at multiple scales.

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