Dampening effects of long-term experimental drought on growth and mortality rates of a Holm oak forest

Barbeta A., Ogaya R., Penuelas J. (2013) Dampening effects of long-term experimental drought on growth and mortality rates of a Holm oak forest. Global Change Biology. 19: 3133-3144.
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Doi: 10.1111/gcb.12269

Resum:

Forests respond to increasing intensities and frequencies of drought by reducing growth and with higher tree mortality rates. Little is known, however, about the long-term consequences of generally drier conditions and more frequent extreme droughts. A Holm oak forest was exposed to experimental rainfall manipulation for 13 years to study the effect of increasing drought on growth and mortality of the dominant species Quercus ilex, Phillyrea latifolia, and Arbutus unedo. The drought treatment reduced stem growth of A. unedo (-66.5%) and Q. ilex (-17.5%), whereas P. latifolia remained unaffected. Higher stem mortality rates were noticeable in Q. ilex (+42.3%), but not in the other two species. Stem growth was a function of the drought index of early spring in the three species. Stem mortality rates depended on the drought index of winter and spring for Q. ilex and in spring and summer for P. latifolia, but showed no relation to climate in A. unedo. Following a long and intense drought (2005-2006), stem growth of Q. ilex and P. latifolia increased, whereas it decreased in A. unedo. Q. ilex also enhanced its survival after this period. Furthermore, the effect of drought treatment on stem growth in Q. ilex and A. unedo was attenuated as the study progressed. These results highlight the different vulnerabilities of Mediterranean species to more frequent and intense droughts, which may lead to partial species substitution and changes in forest structure and thus in carbon uptake. The response to drought, however, changed over time. Decreased intra- and interspecific competition after extreme events with high mortality, together with probable morphological and physiological acclimation to drought during the study period, may, at least in the short term, buffer forests against drier conditions. The long-term effects of drought consequently deserve more attention, because the ecosystemic responses are unlikely to be stable over time.Nontechnical summaryIn this study, we evaluate the effect of long-term (13 years) experimental drought on growth and mortality rates of three forest Mediterranean species, and their response to the different intensities and durations of natural drought. We provide evidence for species-specific responses to drought, what may eventually lead to a partial community shift favoring the more drought-resistant species. However, we also report a dampening of the treatment effect on the two drought-sensitive species, which may indicate a potential adaptation to drier conditions at the ecosystem or population level. These results are thus relevant to account for the stabilizing processes that would alter the initial response of ecosystem to drought through changes in plant physiology, morphology, and demography compensation. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Llegeix més

Contrasting trait syndromes in angiosperms and conifers are associated with different responses of tree growth to temperature on a large scale

Carnicer J., Barbeta A., Sperlich D., Coll M., Penuelas J. (2013) Contrasting trait syndromes in angiosperms and conifers are associated with different responses of tree growth to temperature on a large scale. Frontiers in Plant Science. 4: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00409

Resum:

Recent large-scale studies of tree growth in the Iberian Peninsula reported contrasting positive and negative effects of temperature in Mediterranean angiosperms and conifers. Here we review the different hypotheses that may explain these trends and propose that the observed contrasting responses of tree growth to temperature in this region could be associated with a continuum of trait differences between angiosperms and conifers. Angiosperm and conifer trees differ in the effects of phenology in their productivity, in their growth allometry, and in their sensitivity to competition. Moreover, angiosperms and conifers significantly differ in hydraulic safety margins, sensitivity of stomatal conductance to vapor-pressure deficit (VPD), xylem recovery capacity or the rate of carbon transfer. These differences could be explained by key features of the xylem such as non-structural carbohydrate content (NSC), wood parenchymal fraction or wood capacitance. We suggest that the reviewed trait differences define two contrasting ecophysiological strategies that may determine qualitatively different growth responses to increased temperature and drought. Improved reciprocal common garden experiments along altitudinal or latitudinal gradients would be key to quantify the relative importance of the different hypotheses reviewed. Finally, we show that warming impacts in this area occur in an ecological context characterized by the advance of forest succession and increased dominance of angiosperm trees over extensive areas. In this context, we examined the empirical relationships between the responses of tree growth to temperature and hydraulic safety margins in angiosperm and coniferous trees. Our findings suggest a future scenario in Mediterranean forests characterized by contrasting demographic responses in conifer and angiosperm trees to both temperature and forest succession, with increased dominance of angiosperm trees, and particularly negative impacts in pines. © 2013 Carnicer, Barbeta, Sperlich, Coll and Peñuelas.

Llegeix més

Evidence of current impact of climate change on life: A walk from genes to the biosphere

Penuelas J., Sardans J., Estiarte M., Ogaya R., Carnicer J., Coll M., Barbeta A., Rivas-Ubach A., Llusia J., Garbulsky M., Filella I., Jump A.S. (2013) Evidence of current impact of climate change on life: A walk from genes to the biosphere. Global Change Biology. 19: 2303-2338.
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Doi: 10.1111/gcb.12143

Resum:

We review the evidence of how organisms and populations are currently responding to climate change through phenotypic plasticity, genotypic evolution, changes in distribution and, in some cases, local extinction. Organisms alter their gene expression and metabolism to increase the concentrations of several antistress compounds and to change their physiology, phenology, growth and reproduction in response to climate change. Rapid adaptation and microevolution occur at the population level. Together with these phenotypic and genotypic adaptations, the movement of organisms and the turnover of populations can lead to migration toward habitats with better conditions unless hindered by barriers. Both migration and local extinction of populations have occurred. However, many unknowns for all these processes remain. The roles of phenotypic plasticity and genotypic evolution and their possible trade-offs and links with population structure warrant further research. The application of omic techniques to ecological studies will greatly favor this research. It remains poorly understood how climate change will result in asymmetrical responses of species and how it will interact with other increasing global impacts, such as N eutrophication, changes in environmental N : P ratios and species invasion, among many others. The biogeochemical and biophysical feedbacks on climate of all these changes in vegetation are also poorly understood. We here review the evidence of responses to climate change and discuss the perspectives for increasing our knowledge of the interactions between climate change and life. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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