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Creators/Authors contains: "Hammond, William M."

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  1. Abstract

    Tropical rainforest woody plants have been thought to have uniformly low resistance to hydraulic failure and to function near the edge of their hydraulic safety margin (HSM), making these ecosystems vulnerable to drought; however, this may not be the case. Using data collected at 30 tropical forest sites for three key traits associated with drought tolerance, we show that site‐level hydraulic diversity of leaf turgor loss point, resistance to embolism (P50), and HSMs is high across tropical forests and largely independent of water availability. Species with high HSMs (>1 MPa) and low P50values (< −2 MPa) are common across the wet and dry tropics. This high site‐level hydraulic diversity, largely decoupled from water stress, could influence which species are favoured and become dominant under a drying climate. High hydraulic diversity could also make these ecosystems more resilient to variable rainfall regimes.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Earth’s forests face grave challenges in the Anthropocene, including hotter droughts increasingly associated with widespread forest die-off events. But despite the vital importance of forests to global ecosystem services, their fates in a warming world remain highly uncertain. Lacking is quantitative determination of commonality in climate anomalies associated with pulses of tree mortality—from published, field-documented mortality events—required for understanding the role of extreme climate events in overall global tree die-off patterns. Here we established a geo-referenced global database documenting climate-induced mortality events spanning all tree-supporting biomes and continents, from 154 peer-reviewed studies since 1970. Our analysis quantifies a global “hotter-drought fingerprint” from these tree-mortality sites—effectively a hotter and drier climate signal for tree mortality—across 675 locations encompassing 1,303 plots. Frequency of these observed mortality-year climate conditions strongly increases nonlinearly under projected warming. Our database also provides initial footing for further community-developed, quantitative, ground-based monitoring of global tree mortality.

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  3. Summary

    Determining physiological mechanisms and thresholds for climate‐driven tree die‐off could help improve global predictions of future terrestrial carbon sinks. We directly tested for the lethal threshold in hydraulic failure – an inability to move water due to drought‐induced xylem embolism – in a pine sapling experiment.

    In a glasshouse experiment, we exposed loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) saplings (n = 83) to drought‐induced water stress ranging from mild to lethal. Before rewatering to relieve drought stress, we measured native hydraulic conductivity and foliar color change. We monitored all measured individuals for survival or mortality.

    We found a lethal threshold at 80% loss of hydraulic conductivity – a point of hydraulic failure beyond which it is more likely trees will die, than survive, and describe mortality risk across all levels of water stress. Foliar color changes lagged behind hydraulic failure – best predicting when trees had been dead for some time, rather than when they were dying.

    Our direct measurement of native conductivity, while monitoring the same individuals for survival or mortality, quantifies a continuous probability of mortality risk from hydraulic failure. Predicting tree die‐off events and understanding the mechanism involved requires knowledge not only of when trees are dead, but when they begin dying – having passed the point of no return.

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