Flo V., Martinez-Vilalta J., Steppe K., Schuldt B., Poyatos R. (2019) A synthesis of bias and uncertainty in sap flow methods. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 271: 362-374.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.03.012
Sap flow measurements with thermometric methods are widely used to measure transpiration in plants. Different method families exist depending on how they apply heat and track sapwood temperature (heat pulse, heat dissipation, heat field deformation or heat balance). These methods have been calibrated for many species, but a global assessment of their uncertainty and reliability has not yet been conducted. Here we perform a meta-analysis of 290 individual calibration experiments assembled from the literature to assess calibration performance and how this varies across methods, experimental conditions and wood properties (density and porosity types). We used different metrics to characterize mean accuracy (closeness of the measurements to the true, reference value), proportional bias (resulting from an effect of measured flow on the magnitude of the error), linearity in the relationship between measurements and reference values, and precision (reproducibility and repeatability). We found a large intra- and inter-method variability in calibration performance, with a low proportion of this variability explained by species. Calibration performance was best when using stem segments. We did not find evidence of strong effects of wood density or porosity type in calibration performance. Dissipation methods showed lower accuracy and higher proportional bias than the other methods but they showed relatively high linearity and precision. Pulse methods also showed significant proportional bias, driven by their overestimation of low flows. These results suggest that Dissipation methods may be more appropriate to assess relative sap flow (e.g., treatment effects within a study) and Pulse methods may be more suitable to quantify absolute flows. Nevertheless, all sap flow methods showed high precision, allowing potential correction of the measurements when a study-specific calibration is performed. Our understanding of how sap flow methods perform across species would be greatly improved if experimental conditions and wood properties, including changes in wood moisture, were better reported. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
Martinez-Vilalta J., Anderegg W.R.L., Sapes G., Sala A. (2019) Greater focus on water pools may improve our ability to understand and anticipate drought-induced mortality in plants. New Phytologist. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/nph.15644
Drought-induced tree mortality has major impacts on ecosystem carbon and water cycles, and is expected to increase in forests across the globe with climate change. A large body of research in the past decade has advanced our understanding of plant water and carbon relations under drought. However, despite intense research, we still lack generalizable, cross-scale indicators of mortality risk. In this Viewpoint, we propose that a more explicit consideration of water pools could improve our ability to monitor and anticipate mortality risk. Specifically, we focus on the relative water content (RWC), a classic metric in plant water relations, as a potential indicator of mortality risk that is physiologically relevant and integrates different aspects related to hydraulics, stomatal responses and carbon economy under drought. Measures of plant water content are likely to have a strong mechanistic link with mortality and to be integrative, threshold-prone and relatively easy to measure and monitor at large spatial scales, and may complement current mortality metrics based on water potential, loss of hydraulic conductivity and nonstructural carbohydrates. We discuss some of the potential advantages and limitations of these metrics to improve our capacity to monitor and predict drought-induced tree mortality. © 2018 The Authors New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust
Poyatos R., Aguadé D., Martínez-Vilalta J. (2019) Correction to: Below-ground hydraulic constraints during drought-induced decline in Scots pine (Annals of Forest Science, (2018), 75, 4, (100), 10.1007/s13595-018-0778-7). Annals of Forest Science. 76: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s13595-019-0825-z
The article was published without the submitted data availability statement linking readers to a public repository. Due to publication modifications, the information appears missing in the original article. The following corrects previous version of the statement: Data availability The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are available in Zenodo Repository (Poyatos et al. 2018). The datasets were not peer reviewed. The original article has been corrected. © 2019, INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature.
Rao K., Anderegg W.R.L., Sala A., Martínez-Vilalta J., Konings A.G. (2019) Satellite-based vegetation optical depth as an indicator of drought-driven tree mortality. Remote Sensing of Environment. 227: 125-136.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.rse.2019.03.026
Drought-induced tree mortality events are expected to increase in frequency under climate change. However, monitoring and modeling of tree mortality is limited by the high spatial variability in vegetation response to climatic drought stress and lack of physiologically meaningful stress variables that can be monitored at large scales. In this study, we test the hypothesis that relative water content (RWC) estimated by passive microwave remote sensing through vegetation optical depth can be used as an empirical indicator of tree mortality that both integrates variations in plant drought stress and is accessible across large areas. The hypothesis was tested in a recent severe drought in California, USA. The RWC showed a stronger threshold relationship with mortality than climatic water deficit (CWD) – a commonly used mortality indicator – although both relationships were noisy due to the coarse spatial resolution of the data (0.25° or approximately 25 km). In addition, the threshold for RWC was more uniform than that for CWD when compared between Northern and Southern regions of California. A random forests regression (machine learning) with 32 variables describing topography, climate, and vegetation characteristics predicted forest mortality extent i.e. fractional area of mortality (FAM) with satisfactory accuracy-coefficient of determination R test 2 = 0.66, root mean square error = 0.023. Importantly, RWC was more than twice as important as any other variable in the model in estimating mortality, confirming its strong link to mortality rates. Moreover, RWC showed a moderate ability to aid in forecasting mortality, with a relative importance of RWC measured one year in advance of mortality similar to that of other relevant explanatory variables measured in the mortality year. The results of this study present a promising new approach to estimate drought stress of forests linked to mortality risk. © 2019 Elsevier Inc.
Alfaro Reyna T., Retana J., Martínez-Vilalta J. (2018) Is there a substitution of Pinaceae by Fagaceae in temperate forests at the global scale?. Global and Planetary Change. 166: 41-47.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2018.04.001
Reports on forest decline, changes in species composition and the distribution of forests in response to changes in climate and land use are increasing worldwide. Temperate forests are largely dominated by two tree families: Pinaceae and Fagaceae. These two families have distinct functional properties and different responses to environmental factors. Several local and regional assessments, particularly in Europe, have found that species of Fagaceae are invading areas previously dominated by Pinaceae. The main aim of this synthesis study is to analyze the relative dynamics of Pinaceae and Fagaceae species in temperate forests around the world, with the following specific objectives: (1) establish if there is a consistent directional substitution of Pinaceae by Fagaceae worldwide; and (2) determine whether these directional changes are associated with specific climatic conditions or certain geographic regions, reflecting differences in historical forest management and land use. A bibliographic review was performed and 51 papers were found that met the search criteria, including a total of 121 case studies in which the relative dynamics of Pinaceae and Fagaceae were evaluated. Our results show that the relative abundance of Fagaceae increased in 71% of cases (P → F dynamics), whereas Pinaceae relative abundance increased in 17% of cases (F → P) and 12% of cases did not show clear changes. Increases of Fagaceae relative to Pinaceae were less clear in areas where vegetation dynamics were driven by natural disturbances. Our results indicate a widespread increase in dominance of Fagaceae species at the expense of Pinaceae across northern temperate forests, with the exception of Eastern North America. The potential implications for ecosystem function and forest resilience under ongoing climate change are large and clearly deserve further study. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Cabon A., Martínez-Vilalta J., Martínez de Aragón J., Poyatos R., De Cáceres M. (2018) Applying the eco-hydrological equilibrium hypothesis to model root distribution in water-limited forests. Ecohydrology. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1002/eco.2015
Drought is a key driver of vegetation dynamics, but plant water-uptake patterns and consequent plant responses to drought are poorly understood at large spatial scales. The capacity of vegetation to use soil water depends on its root distribution (RD). However, RD is extremely variable in space and difficult to measure in the field, which hinders accurate predictions of water fluxes and vegetation dynamics. We propose a new method to estimate RD within water balance models, assuming that vegetation is at eco-hydrological equilibrium (EHE). EHE conditions imply that vegetation optimizes RD such that transpiration is maximized within the limits of bearable drought stress, characterized here by species-specific hydraulic thresholds. Optimized RD estimates were validated against RD estimates obtained by model calibration from sap flow or soil moisture from 38 forest plots in Catalonia (NE Spain). In water-limited plots, optimized RD was similar to calibrated RD, but estimates diverged with higher water availability, suggesting that the EHE may not be assumed when water is not limiting. Thereafter, we applied the optimization procedure at the regional scale, to estimate RD for the water-limited forests of Catalonia. Regional variations of optimum RD reproduced many expected patterns in response to climate, soil physical properties, forest structure, and species hydraulic traits. We conclude that RD optimization, based on the EHE hypothesis and a simple description of plant hydraulics, produces realistic estimates of RD that can be used for model parameterization and shows promise to improve our ability to forecast vegetation dynamics under increased drought. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Fernández-Pérez L., Villar-Salvador P., Martínez-Vilalta J., Toca A., Zavala M.A. (2018) Distribution of pines in the Iberian Peninsula agrees with species differences in foliage frost tolerance, not with vulnerability to freezing-induced xylem embolism. Tree Physiology. 38: 507-516.LinkDoi: 10.1093/treephys/tpx171
Drought and frosts are major determinants of plant functioning and distribution. Both stresses can cause xylem embolism and foliage damage. The objective of this study was to analyse if the distribution of six common pine species along latitudinal and altitudinal gradients in Europe is related to their interspecific differences in frost tolerance and to the physiological mechanisms underlying species-specific frost tolerance. We also evaluate if frost tolerance depends on plant water status. We studied survival to a range of freezing temperatures in 2-year-old plants and assessed the percentage loss of hydraulic conductivity (PLC) due xylem embolism formation and foliage damage determined by needle electrolyte leakage (EL) after a single frost cycle to −15 °C and over a range of predawn water potential (ψpd) values. Species experiencing cold winters in their range (Pinus nigra J.F. Arnold, Pinus sylvestris L. and Pinus uncinata Raymond ex A. DC.) had the highest frost survival rates and lowest needle EL and soluble sugar (SS) concentration. In contrast, the pines inhabiting mild or cool winter locations (especially Pinus halepensis Mill. and Pinus pinea L. and, to a lesser extent, Pinus pinaster Ait.) had the lowest frost survival and highest needle EL and SS values. Freezing-induced PLC was very low and differences among species were not related to frost damage. Reduction in ψpd decreased leaf frost damage in P. pinea and P. sylvestris, increased it in P. uncinata and had a neutral effect on the rest of the species. This study demonstrates that freezing temperatures are a major environmental driver for pine distribution and suggests that interspecific differences in leaf frost sensitivity rather than vulnerability to freezing-induced embolism or SS explain pine juvenile frost survival. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
Lloret F., Sapes G., Rosas T., Galiano L., Saura-Mas S., Sala A., Martínez-Vilalta J. (2018) Non-structural carbohydrate dynamics associated with drought-induced die-off in woody species of a shrubland community. Annals of Botany. 121: 1383-1396.LinkDoi: 10.1093/aob/mcy039
Background and Aims The relationship between plant carbon economy and drought responses of co-occurring woody species can be assessed by comparing carbohydrate (C) dynamics following drought and rain periods, relating these dynamics to species' functional traits. We studied nine woody species coexisting in a continental Mediterranean shrubland that experienced severe drought effects followed by rain. Methods We measured total non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) and soluble sugars (SS) in roots and stems during drought and after an autumn rain pulse in plants exhibiting leaf loss and in undefoliated ones. We explored whether their dynamics were related to foliage recovery and functional traits (height [H], specific leaf area [SLA], wood density [WD]). Key Results During drought, NSC concentrations were overall lower in stems and roots of plants experiencing leaf loss, while SS decreases were smaller. Roots had higher NSC concentrations than stems. After the rain, NSC concentrations continued to decrease, while SS increased. Green foliage recovered after rain, particularly in plants previously experiencing higher leaf loss, independently of NSC concentrations during drought. Species with lower WD tended to have more SS during drought and lower SS increases after rain. In low-WD species, plants with severe leaf loss had lower NSC relative to undefoliated ones. No significant relationship was found between H or SLA and C content or dynamics. Conclusions Our community-level study reveals that, while responses were species-specific, C stocks overall diminished in plants affected by prolonged drought and did not increase after a pulse of seasonal rain. Dynamics were faster for SS than NSC. We found limited depletion of SS, consistent with their role in basal metabolic, transport and signalling functions. In a scenario of increased drought under climate change, NSC stocks in woody plants are expected to decrease differentially in coexisting species, with potential implications for their adaptive abilities and community dynamics. © The Author(s) 2018.
Martínez-Vilalta J. (2018) The rear window: Structural and functional plasticity in tree responses to climate change inferred from growth rings. Tree Physiology. 38: 155-158.LinkDoi: 10.1093/treephys/tpy008
[No abstract available]
Poyatos R., Aguadé D., Martínez-Vilalta J. (2018) Below-ground hydraulic constraints during drought-induced decline in Scots pine. Annals of Forest Science. 75: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s13595-018-0778-7
Key message: Below-crown hydraulic resistance, a proxy for below-ground hydraulic resistance, increased during drought in Scots pine, but larger increases were not associated to drought-induced defoliation. Accounting for variable below-ground hydraulic conductance in response to drought may be needed for accurate predictions of forest water fluxes and drought responses in xeric forests. Context: Hydraulic deterioration is an important trigger of drought-induced tree mortality. However, the role of below-ground hydraulic constraints remains largely unknown. Aims: We investigated the association between drought-induced defoliation and seasonal dynamics of below-crown hydraulic resistance (a proxy for below-ground hydraulic resistance), associated to variations in water supply and demand in a field population of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) Methods: Below-crown hydraulic resistance (rbc) of defoliated and non-defoliated pines was obtained from the relationship between maximum leaf-specific sap flow rates and maximum stem pressure difference estimated from xylem radius variations. The percent contribution of rbc to whole-tree hydraulic resistance (%rbc) was calculated by comparing stem water potential variations with the water potential difference between the leaves and the soil. Results: rbc and %rbc increased with drought in both defoliated and non-defoliated pines. However, non-defoliated trees showed larger increases in rbc between spring and summer. The difference between defoliation classes is unexplained by differences in root embolism, and it is possibly related to seasonal changes in other properties of the roots and the soil-root interface. Conclusion: Our results highlight the importance of increasing below-ground hydraulic constraints during summer drought but do not clearly link drought-induced defoliation with severe below-ground hydraulic impairment in Scots pine. © 2018, INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature.
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