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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. Proximal remote sensing offers a powerful tool for high-throughput phenotyping of plants for assessing stress response. Bean plants, an important legume for human consumption, are often grown in regions with limited rainfall and irrigation and are therefore bred to further enhance drought tolerance. We assessed physiological (stomatal conductance and predawn and midday leaf water potential) and ground- and tower-based hyperspectral remote sensing (400 to 2,400 nm and 400 to 900 nm, respectively) measurements to evaluate drought response in 12 common bean and 4 tepary bean genotypes across 3 field campaigns (1 predrought and 2 post-drought). Hyperspectral data in partial least squares regression models predicted these physiological traits ( R 2 = 0.20 to 0.55; root mean square percent error 16% to 31%). Furthermore, ground-based partial least squares regression models successfully ranked genotypic drought responses similar to the physiologically based ranks. This study demonstrates applications of high-resolution hyperspectral remote sensing for predicting plant traits and phenotyping drought response across genotypes for vegetation monitoring and breeding population screening. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  3. Tree plantations represent an important component of the global carbon (C) cycle and are expected to increase in prevalence during the 21st century. We examined how silvicultural approaches that optimize economic returns in loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) plantations affected the accumulation of C in pools of vegetation, detritus, and mineral soil up to 100 cm across the loblolly pine’s natural range in the southeastern United States. Comparisons of silvicultural treatments included competing vegetation or ‘weed’ control, fertilization, thinning, and varying intensities of silvicultural treatment for 106 experimental plantations and 322 plots. The average age of the sampled plantations was 17 years, and the C stored in vegetation (pine and understory) averaged 82.1 ± 3.0 (±std. error) Mg C ha−1, and 14.3 ± 0.6 Mg C ha−1 in detrital pools (soil organic layers, coarse-woody debris, and soil detritus). Mineral soil C (0–100 cm) averaged 79.8 ± 4.6 Mg C ha−1 across sites. For management effects, thinning reduced vegetation by 35.5 ± 1.2 Mg C ha−1 for all treatment combinations. Weed control and fertilization increased vegetation between 2.3 and 5.7 Mg C ha−1 across treatment combinations, with high intensity silvicultural applications producing greater vegetation C than low intensity (increase of 21.4 ± 1.7 Mg C ha−1). Detrital C pools were negatively affected by thinning where either fertilization or weed control were also applied, and were increased with management intensity. Mineral soil C did not respond to any silvicultural treatments. From these data, we constructed regression models that summarized the C accumulation in detritus and detritus + vegetation in response to independent variables commonly monitored by plantation managers (site index (SI), trees per hectare (TPH) and plantation age (AGE)). The C stored in detritus and vegetation increased on average with AGE and both models included SI and TPH. The detritus model explained less variance (adj. R2 = 0.29) than the detritus + vegetation model (adj. R2 = 0.87). A general recommendation for managers looking to maximize C storage would be to maintain a high TPH and increase SI, with SI manipulation having a greater relative effect. From the model, we predict that a plantation managed to achieve the average upper third SI (26.8) within our observations, and planted at 1500 TPH, could accumulate ~85 Mg C ha−1 by 12 years of age in detritus and vegetation, an amount greater than the region’s average mineral soil C pool. Notably, SI can be increased using both genetic and silviculture technologies. 
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  4. Abstract Drought frequency and intensity are projected to increase throughout the southeastern USA, the natural range of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.), and are expected to have major ecological and economic implications. We analyzed the carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions in tree ring cellulose of loblolly pine in a factorial drought (~30% throughfall reduction) and fertilization experiment, supplemented with trunk sap flow, allometry and microclimate data. We then simulated leaf temperature and applied a multi-dimensional sensitivity analysis to interpret the changes in the oxygen isotope data. This analysis found that the observed changes in tree ring cellulose could only be accounted for by inferring a change in the isotopic composition of the source water, indicating that the drought treatment increased the uptake of stored moisture from earlier precipitation events. The drought treatment also increased intrinsic water-use efficiency, but had no effect on growth, indicating that photosynthesis remained relatively unaffected despite 19% decrease in canopy conductance. In contrast, fertilization increased growth, but had no effect on the isotopic composition of tree ring cellulose, indicating that the fertilizer gains in biomass were attributable to greater leaf area and not to changes in leaf-level gas exchange. The multi-dimensional sensitivity analysis explored model behavior under different scenarios, highlighting the importance of explicit consideration of leaf temperature in the oxygen isotope discrimination (Δ18Oc) simulation and is expected to expand the inference space of the Δ18Oc models for plant ecophysiological studies. 
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  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024