School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences


Oliver Binks

Room: 401 (Attic PG Suite)
Address:  Institute of Geography,
Crew Building,
The King's Buildings,
West Mains Road,
Phone:  +44 (0) 131 650 5103

Degree Registered:  PhD
Title of Research:  The relevance of leaf hydraulic supply for the leaf economic spectrum in tropical trees
Supervisor(s):  1. Professor Patrick Meir

2. Professor Maurizio Mencuccini
Research Group(s):  1. Global Change

Project Summary:

The importance of plants to atmospheric composition, biogeochemical cycles and the evolution of complex life on Earth cannot be overstated.  The mechanisms and effects of photosynthesis have been well studied, but the movement of water through the leaves into the atmosphere, the last point of terrestrial contact in the soil-plant-atmosphere-continuum, has received much less attention and is still poorly understood.  Terrestrial vegetation delivers an estimated 40,000 km3 of water into the atmosphere annually through transpiration, yet leaves are considered to be a ‘hydraulic bottleneck’ as they can contribute as much as 80% of the total resistance to water movement through the whole plant.  This has led many to the conclusion that leaf hydraulic resistance can limit maximum rates of photosynthesis.  I aim to explore the aspects of vascular architecture and cellular structure that may contribute to this resistance, and whether differences in leaf hydraulics between species influence their response to drought.  The focus is on tropical forest trees and the field work will be undertaken in a drought experiment plot in the Amazon Rainforest, Caxiuanã, Brazil.