Dec 11, 2018

Rainforest trees respond to drought by modifying their hydraulic architecture

David Y. P. Tng, Deborah M. G. Apgaua, Yoko F. Ishida, Maurizio Mencuccini, Jon Lloyd, William F. Laurance, Susan G. W. Laurance
Ecology and Evolution
  • States that:
    • Increased drought is forecast for tropical regions, with severe implications for the health and function of forest ecosystems
    • How mature forest trees will respond to water deficit is poorly known
  • Investigates wood anatomy and leaf traits in lowland tropical forest trees after 24 months of experimental rainfall exclusion
  • Finds species‐specific systematic variation in hydraulic‐related wood anatomy and leaf traits in response to drought stress
  • Finds that relative to controls, drought‐affected individuals of different tree species variously exhibited trait measures consistent with increasing hydraulic safety, like narrower vessels and less water storage tissue
  • Concludes that future studies examining both wood and leaf hydraulic traits should improve the representation of plant hydraulics within terrestrial ecosystem and biosphere models, and help fine‐tune predictions of how future climate changes will affect tropical forests globally