Plant Water Relations

  • Hans Lambers
  • F. Stuart ChapinIII
  • Thijs L. Pons


Although water is the most abundant molecule on the Earth’s surface, the availability of water is the factor that most strongly restricts terrestrial plant production on a global scale. Low water availability limits the productivity of many natural ecosystems, particularly in dry climates (Fig. 3.1). In addition, losses in crop yield due to water stress exceed losses due to all other biotic and environmental factors combined (Boyer 1985). Regions where rainfall is abundant and fairly evenly distributed over the growing season, such as in the wet tropics, have lush vegetation. Where summer droughts are frequent and severe, forests are replaced by grasslands, as in the Asian steppes and North American prairies. Further decrease in rainfall results in semidesert, with scattered shrubs, and finally deserts. Even the effects of temperature are partly exerted through water relations because rates of evaporation and transpiration are correlated with temperature. Thus, if we want to explain natural patterns of productivity or to increase productivity of agriculture or forestry, it is crucial that we understand the controls over plant water relations and the consequences for plant growth of an inadequate water supply.


Water Potential Stomatal Conductance Guard Cell Relative Water Content Soil Water Potential 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Lambers
    • 1
  • F. Stuart ChapinIII
    • 2
  • Thijs L. Pons
    • 3
  1. 1.The University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.University of AlaskaFairbanksUSA
  3. 3.Utrecht UniversityThe Netherlands

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