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  Year: 2011 | Volume: 1 | Issue: 1 | Page No.: 31-43
DOI: 10.3923/ecologia.2011.31.43
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Spatial Variability in Water Relations of Wild Coffea arabica Populations in the Montane Rainforests of Ethiopia

T. Kufa and J. Burkhardt

In Ethiopia, the fragmented montane rainforests with the occurrence of diverse flora and fauna, including the wild arabica coffee genetic resources, are under continuous threats of genetic erosion largely due to human induced disturbance of original forest ecology coupled with climate changes. This study was undertaken to evaluate and compare the spatial variability in soil-plant-water relations of wild Arabica coffee populations in the montane rainforests of Ethiopia. For this, seasonal soil and plant moisture status were measured at four coffee forest environments. The results depicted that the changes in soil-plant moisture status was significantly different over seasons and among the wild arabica coffee populations. In the southwestern coffee forests, the patterns followed the order of spring>winter>autumn. In contrast, higher moisture status was measured in winter when compared to summer season at the drier Harenna forest. Likewise, Leaf Water Potential (LWP) revealed significant variations over seasons and locations. Accordingly, the Harenna coffee populations showed the highest predawn LWP and diurnal changes in LWP during the winter season as compared to other populations. Moreover, the Harenna and Bonga trees had the lowest leaf water contents in dry seasons. The Yayu coffee trees maintained high leaf water as compared to others under increased soil moisture availability. There was a significant positive relationship between soil and leaf water contents in the forest grown coffee trees. Present findings demonstrate differences in spatial soil-plant moisture dynamics among the wild arabica coffee populations and underline the roles of forest ecology as potential natural coffee gene pools for future selection and breeding program. This underlines the need for a multi-site in-situ management and utilization of forest genetic resources at their original forest habitats in Ethiopia.
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How to cite this article:

T. Kufa and J. Burkhardt, 2011. Spatial Variability in Water Relations of Wild Coffea arabica Populations in the Montane Rainforests of Ethiopia. Ecologia, 1: 31-43.

DOI: 10.3923/ecologia.2011.31.43






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