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A multi-species synthesis of physiological mechanisms in drought-induced tree mortality

Adams, HD, Zeppel, MJB, Anderegg, WRL, Hartmann, H, Landhausser, SM, Tissue, DT, Huxman, TE, Hudson, PJ, Franz, TE, Allen, CD, Anderegg, LDL, Barron-Gafford, GA, Beerling, DJ, Breshears, DD, Brodribb, TJ ORCID: 0000-0002-4964-6107, Bugmann, H, Cobb, RC, Collins, AD, Dickman, LT, Duan, H, Ewers, BE, Galiano, L, Galvez, DA, Garcia-Forner, N, Gaylord, ML, Germino, MJ, Gessler, A, Hacke, UG, Hakamada, R, Hector, A, Jenkins, MW, Kane, JM, Kolb, TE, Law, DJ, Lewis, JD, Limousin, JM, Love, DM, Macalady, AK, Martinez-Vilalta, J, Mencuccini, M, Mitchell, PJ, Muss, JD, O'Brien, MJ, O'Grady, AP, Pangle, RE, Pinkard, EA, Piper, FI, Plaut, JA, Pockman, WT, Quirk, J, Reinhardt, K, Ripullone, F, Ryan, MG, Sala, A, Sevanto, S, Sperry, JS, Vargas, R, Vennetier, M, Way, DA, Xu, C, Yepez, EA and McDowell, NG 2017 , 'A multi-species synthesis of physiological mechanisms in drought-induced tree mortality' , Nature Ecology and Evolution, vol. 1, no. 9 , pp. 1285-1291 , doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0248-x.

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Widespread tree mortality associated with drought has been observed on all forested continents and global change is expected to exacerbate vegetation vulnerability. Forest mortality has implications for future biosphere-atmosphere interactions of carbon, water and energy balance, and is poorly represented in dynamic vegetation models. Reducing uncertainty requires improved mortality projections founded on robust physiological processes. However, the proposed mechanisms of drought-induced mortality, including hydraulic failure and carbon starvation, are unresolved. A growing number of empirical studies have investigated these mechanisms, but data have not been consistently analysed across species and biomes using a standardized physiological framework. Here, we show that xylem hydraulic failure was ubiquitous across multiple tree taxa at drought-induced mortality. All species assessed had 60% or higher loss of xylem hydraulic conductivity, consistent with proposed theoretical and modelled survival thresholds. We 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. Our finding that hydraulic failure at drought-induced mortality was persistent across species indicates that substantial improvement in vegetation modelling can be achieved using thresholds in hydraulic function.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Adams, HD and Zeppel, MJB and Anderegg, WRL and Hartmann, H and Landhausser, SM and Tissue, DT and Huxman, TE and Hudson, PJ and Franz, TE and Allen, CD and Anderegg, LDL and Barron-Gafford, GA and Beerling, DJ and Breshears, DD and Brodribb, TJ and Bugmann, H and Cobb, RC and Collins, AD and Dickman, LT and Duan, H and Ewers, BE and Galiano, L and Galvez, DA and Garcia-Forner, N and Gaylord, ML and Germino, MJ and Gessler, A and Hacke, UG and Hakamada, R and Hector, A and Jenkins, MW and Kane, JM and Kolb, TE and Law, DJ and Lewis, JD and Limousin, JM and Love, DM and Macalady, AK and Martinez-Vilalta, J and Mencuccini, M and Mitchell, PJ and Muss, JD and O'Brien, MJ and O'Grady, AP and Pangle, RE and Pinkard, EA and Piper, FI and Plaut, JA and Pockman, WT and Quirk, J and Reinhardt, K and Ripullone, F and Ryan, MG and Sala, A and Sevanto, S and Sperry, JS and Vargas, R and Vennetier, M and Way, DA and Xu, C and Yepez, EA and McDowell, NG
Keywords: xylem hydraulic, tree mortality
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Ecology and Evolution
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2397-334X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/s41559-017-0248-x
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Copyright 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature

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