Martinez-Vilalta J., Poyatos R., Aguade D., Retana J., Mencuccini M. (2014) A new look at water transport regulation in plants. New Phytologist. : 0-0.EnlaceDoi: 10.1111/nph.12912
Plant function requires effective mechanisms to regulate water transport at a variety of scales. Here, we develop a new theoretical framework describing plant responses to drying soil, based on the relationship between midday and predawn leaf water potentials. The intercept of the relationship (Λ) characterizes the maximum transpiration rate per unit of hydraulic transport capacity, whereas the slope (σ) measures the relative sensitivity of the transpiration rate and plant hydraulic conductance to declining water availability. This framework was applied to a newly compiled global database of leaf water potentials to estimate the values of Λ and σ for 102 plant species. Our results show that our characterization of drought responses is largely consistent within species, and that the parameters Λ and σ show meaningful associations with climate across species. Parameter σ was ≤1 in most species, indicating a tight coordination between the gas and liquid phases of water transport, in which canopy transpiration tended to decline faster than hydraulic conductance during drought, thus reducing the pressure drop through the plant. The quantitative framework presented here offers a new way of characterizing water transport regulation in plants that can be used to assess their vulnerability to drought under current and future climatic conditions. © 2014 New Phytologist Trust.
Moran-Lopez T., Poyatos R., Llorens P., Sabate S. (2014) Effects of past growth trends and current water use strategies on scots pine and pubescent oak drought sensitivity. European Journal of Forest Research. 133: 369-382.EnlaceDoi: 10.1007/s10342-013-0768-0
Drought-induced decline is affecting Pinus sylvestris populations in southern Europe, with very little impact on the more drought-tolerant Quercus pubescens. Although multiple studies have investigated interspecific differences in water use and growth strategies, the link between these two processes and how they vary within drought-exposed populations remains poorly understood. Here, we analysed tree ring and sap flow data from P. sylvestris and Q. pubescens stands in the Pyrenees in order to (1) evaluate differences in climate-growth responses among species, (2) disentangle the role of past growth trends and water use strategies in individual trees drought sensitivity and (3) assess whether such intraspecific patterns vary between species. Both species have suffered recent climatic constraints related to increased aridity. However, the effects of past growth trends and current water use traits on drought sensitivity varied among them. Initially, fast-growing 'drought-sensitive' pines displayed a higher gas exchange potential but were more sensitive to evaporative demand and soil moisture. They also showed lower water use efficiency for growth (WUEBAI) and current growth decline. In contrast, initially, slow-growing 'drought-tolerant' pines showed the opposite water use traits and currently maintain the highest growth rates. In comparison, neither current WUEBAI nor recent growth trends varied across Q. pubescens climate-growth groups. Nonetheless, 'drought-sensitive' oaks showed the lowest gas exchange potential and the highest growth rates under milder conditions. Our results show a strong effect of past growth trends and current water use strategies on tree resilience to increased aridity, which is more evident in P. sylvestris. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013.
Poyatos R., Heinemeyer A., Ineson P., Evans J.G., Ward H.C., Huntley B., Baxter R. (2014) Environmental and Vegetation Drivers of Seasonal CO2 Fluxes in a Sub-arctic Forest-Mire Ecotone. Ecosystems. 17: 377-393.EnlaceDoi: 10.1007/s10021-013-9728-2
Unravelling the role of structural and environmental drivers of gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (R eco) in highly heterogeneous tundra is a major challenge for the upscaling of chamber-based CO2 fluxes in Arctic landscapes. In a mountain birch woodland-mire ecotone, we investigated the role of LAI (and NDVI), environmental factors (microclimate, soil moisture), and microsite type across tundra shrub plots (wet hummocks, dry hummocks, dry hollows) and lichen hummocks, in controlling net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE). During a growing season, we measured NEE fluxes continuously, with closed dynamic chambers, and performed multiple fits (one for each 3-day period) of a simple light and temperature response model to hourly NEE data. Tundra shrub plots were largely CO2 sinks, as opposed to lichen plots, although fluxes were highly variable within microsite type. For tundra shrub plots, microsite type did not influence photosynthetic parameters but it affected basal (that is, temperature-normalized) ecosystem respiration (R 0). PAR-normalized photosynthesis (P 600) increased with air temperature and declined with increasing vapor pressure deficit. R 0 declined with soil moisture and showed an apparent increase with temperature, which may underlie a tight link between GPP and R eco. NDVI was a good proxy for LAI, maximum P 600 and maximum R 0 of shrub plots. Cumulative CO2 fluxes were strongly correlated with LAI (NDVI) but we observed a comparatively low GPP/LAI in dry hummocks. Our results broadly agree with the reported functional convergence across tundra vegetation, but here we show that the role of decreased productivity in transition zones and the influence of temperature and water balance on seasonal CO2 fluxes in sub-Arctic forest-mire ecotones cannot be overlooked. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Sus O., Poyatos R., Barba J., Carvalhais N., Llorens P., Williams M., Vilalta J.M. (2014) Time variable hydraulic parameters improve the performance of a mechanistic stand transpiration model. A case study of Mediterranean Scots pine sap flow data assimilation. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 198: 168-180.EnlaceDoi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2014.08.009
Tree transpiration is regulated by short-term physiological adjustments and long-term shifts in hydraulic architecture in response to fluctuating evaporative demand and water supply. Despite the tight interdependence of plant water loss and carbon uptake and its crucial implications for plant growth and survival under drought conditions, the underlying mechanisms remain incompletely represented in most state-of-the-art mechanistic models. Important process information is resolved in tree transpiration (sap flow) data, which are the measurable outcome of water transport through the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum under variable environmental conditions. Here, we assimilated sap flow data measured in two Scots pine stands from climatically contrasting sites - one of which experiencing a strong drought during the study period - in NE Spain into a process-based ecophysiological model (SPA) using the Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) in order to: (1) distinguish differences in hydraulic characteristics between sites and between healthy and defoliated individuals within a site; (2) identify possible structural model deficiencies, particularly regarding temporal changes in plant hydraulic conductance which the model assumes constant; and (3) derive implications for gross photosynthesis and carbon cycling. In terms of stomatal control, the assimilation of sap flow data into SPA showed a more conservative water use under dry conditions. Time-varying plant conductivity substantially improved model performance under severe drought, while seasonally varying capacitance and stomatal efficiency only resulted in marginal improvements. Not accounting for this seasonal variability would translate into a 30-60% overestimation of modelled GPP during drought. Our results suggest that an explicit representation of mechanisms leading to temporal changes in hydraulic conductivity (i.e., xylem embolism) is required for models to reproduce tree functioning under extreme drought.
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