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Gas exchange recovery following natural drought is rapid unless limited by loss of leaf hydraulic conductance: evidence from an evergreen woodland

Skelton, RP, Brodribb, TJ ORCID: 0000-0002-4964-6107, McAdam, SAM ORCID: 0000-0002-9625-6750 and Mitchell, PJ 2017 , 'Gas exchange recovery following natural drought is rapid unless limited by loss of leaf hydraulic conductance: evidence from an evergreen woodland' , New Phytologist, vol. 215, no. 4 , pp. 1399-1412 , doi: 10.1111/nph.14652.

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Abstract

Drought can cause major damage to plant communities, but species damage thresholds and postdrought recovery of forest productivity are not yet predictable. We used an El Niño drought event as a natural experiment to test whether postdrought recovery of gas exchange could be predicted by properties of the water transport system, or if metabolism, primarily high abscisic acid concentration, might delay recovery.We monitored detailed physiological responses, including shoot sapflow, leaf gas exchange, leaf water potential and foliar abscisic acid (ABA), during drought and through the subsequent rehydration period for a sample of eight canopy and understory species.Severe drought caused major declines in leaf water potential, elevated foliar ABA concentrations and reduced stomatal conductance and assimilation rates in our eight sample species. Leaf water potential surpassed levels associated with incipient loss of leaf hydraulic conductance in four species. Following heavy rainfall gas exchange in all species, except those trees predicted to have suffered hydraulic impairment, recovered to prestressed rates within 1 d.Recovery of plant gas exchange was rapid and could be predicted by the hydraulic safety margin, providing strong support for leaf vulnerability to water deficit as an index of damage under natural drought conditions.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Skelton, RP and Brodribb, TJ and McAdam, SAM and Mitchell, PJ
Keywords: abscisic acid (ABA), forest productivity and mortality, hydraulic failure, leaf hydraulic conductance, natural drought, plant gas exchange, stomatal conductance, xylem vulnerability to water deficit
Journal or Publication Title: New Phytologist
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
ISSN: 0028-646X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/nph.14652
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 The Authors

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