The ecohydrological context of drought and classification of plant responses

Xue Feng, David D. Ackerly, Todd E. Dawson, Stefano Manzoni, Rob P. Skelton, Giulia Vico, Sally E. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many recent studies on drought-induced vegetation mortality have explored how plant functional traits, and classifications of such traits along axes of, for example, isohydry–anisohydry, might contribute to predicting drought survival and recovery. As these studies proliferate, the consistency and predictive value of such classifications need to be carefully examined. Here, we outline the basis for a systematic classification of plant drought responses that accounts for both environmental conditions and functional traits. We use non-dimensional analysis to integrate plant traits and metrics of environmental variation into groups that can be associated with alternative drought stress pathways (hydraulic failure and carbon limitation), and demonstrate that these groupings predict physiological drought outcomes using both synthetic and measured data. In doing so, we aim to untangle some confounding effects of environment and trait variations that undermine current classification schemes, advocate for more careful treatment of the environmental context within which plants experience and respond to drought, and outline a pathway towards a general classification of drought vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1723-1736
Number of pages14
JournalEcology letters
Volume21
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
XF was partially supported by NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship. SM was supported by the Swedish Research Council Formas (2016–00998) and thanks the NIMBioS working group ‘A DEB Model for Trees’ for discussions on tree hydraulics. GV acknowledges the support by Swedish Research Council Formas (942-2016-1) and the project ‘TC4F—Trees and Crops for the Future’ funded through the Swedish government’s Strategic Research Environment ‘Sustainable use of Natural Resources’. The authors also acknowledge support from National Science Foundation IOS-1441396 and IOS-1457400, and thank Dr. William Anderegg and two anonymous reviewers for providing valuable suggestions towards improving the manuscript.

Funding Information:
XF was partially supported by NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship. SM was supported by the Swedish Research Council Formas (2016?00998) and thanks the NIMBioS working group ?A DEB Model for Trees? for discussions on tree hydraulics. GV acknowledges the support by Swedish Research Council Formas (942-2016-1) and the project ?TC4F?Trees and Crops for the Future? funded through the Swedish government's Strategic Research Environment ?Sustainable use of Natural Resources?. The authors also acknowledge support from National Science Foundation IOS-1441396 and IOS-1457400, and thank Dr. William Anderegg and two anonymous reviewers for providing valuable suggestions towards improving the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS

Keywords

  • Carbon limitation
  • classification
  • hydraulic risk
  • non-dimensionalisation
  • plant drought responses

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