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Physiological Mechanisms in Drought-induced Tree Mortality

Widespread tree mortality associated with drought has been observed on all forested continents, and global change is expected to exacerbate vegetation vulnerability. The proposed mechanisms of drought-induced mortality, including hydraulic failure and carbon starvation, are unresolved. A team of international authors reviewed the literature to show that multiple tree taxa had 60% or greater loss of xylem hydraulic conductivity upon drought-induced mortality. They found diverse responses in non-structural carbohydrate reserves at mortality, indicating that evidence supporting carbon starvation was not universal. Reduced non-structural carbohydrates were more common for gymnosperms than angiosperms, associated with xylem hydraulic vulnerability, and may have a role in reducing hydraulic function. Their findings indicate that substantial improvement in vegetation modeling can be achieved using thresholds in hydraulic function.

Adams, H.D., Zeppel, M.J., Anderegg, W.R., Hartmann, H., Landhäusser, S.M., Tissue, D.T., Huxman, T.E., Hudson, P.J., Franz, T.E., Allen, C.D., Anderegg, L.D., Barron-Gafford, G.A., Beerling, D.J., Breshears, D.D., Brodribb, T.J., Bugmann, H., Cobb, R.C., Collins, A.D., Turin Dickman, L., Duan, H., Ewers, B.E., Galiano, L., Galvez, D.A., Garcia-Forner, N., Gaylord, M.L., Germino, M.J., Gessler, A., Hacke, U.G., Hakamada, R., Hector, A., Jenkins, M.W., Kane, J.M., Kolb, T.E., Law, D.J., Lewis, J.D., Limousin, J., Love, D.M., Macalady, A.K., Martínez-Vilalta, J., Mencuccini, M., Mitchell, P.J., Muss, J.D., O'Brien, M.J., O'Grady, A.P., Pangle, R.E., Pinkard, E.A., Piper, F.I., Plaut, J.A., Pockman, W.T., Quirk, J., Reinhardt, K., Ripullone, F., Ryan, M.G., Sala, A., Sevanto, S., Sperry, J.S., Vargas, R., Vennetier, M., Way, D.A., Xu, C., Yepez, E.A., McDowell, N.G., 2017, A multi-species synthesis of physiological mechanisms in drought-induced tree mortality: Nature Ecology and Evolution, v. 1, p. 1285–1291, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0248-x[Details]

Contact: Matthew Germino, FRESC, 208-426-3353, Profile

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