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  1. Summary statement Legacy of severe drought enhanced salinity tolerance in Aegiceras corniculatum and Rhizophora stylosa through coordinated adjustments in leaf turgor loss points and cell wall elasticity. Nevertheless, declining turgor safety margins may increase the vulnerability of mangroves to drought. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  2. Abstract Soil and atmospheric droughts increasingly threaten plant survival and productivity around the world. Yet, conceptual gaps constrain our ability to predict ecosystem‐scale drought impacts under climate change. Here, we introduce the ecosystem wilting point (Ψ EWP ), a property that integrates the drought response of an ecosystem's plant community across the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum. Specifically, Ψ EWP defines a threshold below which the capacity of the root system to extract soil water and the ability of the leaves to maintain stomatal function are strongly diminished. We combined ecosystem flux and leaf water potential measurements to derive the Ψ EWP of a Quercus‐Carya forest from an “ecosystem pressure–volume (PV) curve,” which is analogous to the tissue‐level technique. When community predawn leaf water potential (Ψ pd ) was above Ψ EWP (=−2.0 MPa), the forest was highly responsive to environmental dynamics. When Ψ pd fell below Ψ EWP , the forest became insensitive to environmental variation and was a net source of carbon dioxide for nearly 2 months. Thus, Ψ EWP is a threshold defining marked shifts in ecosystem functional state. Though there was rainfall‐induced recovery of ecosystem gas exchange following soaking rains, a legacy of structural and physiological damage inhibited canopy photosynthetic capacity. Although over 16 growing seasons, only 10% of Ψ pd observations fell below Ψ EWP , the forest is commonly only 2–4 weeks of intense drought away from reaching Ψ EWP , and thus highly reliant on frequent rainfall to replenish the soil water supply. We propose, based on a bottom‐up analysis of root density profiles and soil moisture characteristic curves, that soil water acquisition capacity is the major determinant of Ψ EWP , and species in an ecosystem require compatible leaf‐level traits such as turgor loss point so that leaf wilting is coordinated with the inability to extract further water from the soil. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 24, 2024
  4. Lawson, Tracy (Ed.)
    Abstract Shifts in stomatal trait distributions across contrasting environments and their linkage with ecosystem productivity at large spatial scales have been unclear. Here, we measured the maximum stomatal conductance (g), stomatal area fraction (f), and stomatal space-use efficiency (e, the ratio of g to f) of 800 plant species ranging from tropical to cold-temperate forests, and determined their values for community-weighted mean, variance, skewness, and kurtosis. We found that the community-weighted means of g and f were higher in drier sites, and thus, that drought ‘avoidance’ by water availability-driven growth pulses was the dominant mode of adaptation for communities at sites with low water availability. Additionally, the variance of g and f was also higher at arid sites, indicating greater functional niche differentiation, whereas that for e was lower, indicating the convergence in efficiency. When all other stomatal trait distributions were held constant, increasing kurtosis or decreasing skewness of g would improve ecosystem productivity, whereas f showed the opposite patterns, suggesting that the distributions of inter-related traits can play contrasting roles in regulating ecosystem productivity. These findings demonstrate the climatic trends of stomatal trait distributions and their significance in the prediction of ecosystem productivity. 
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  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  6. Penuelas, Josep (Ed.)
  7. Summary

    A surge of papers have reported low leaf vulnerability to xylem embolism during drought. Here, we focus on the less studied, and more sensitive, outside‐xylem leaf hydraulic responses to multiple internal and external conditions. Studies of 34 species have resolved substantial vulnerability to dehydration of the outside‐xylem pathways, and studies of leaf hydraulic responses to light also implicate dynamic outside‐xylem responses. Detailed experiments suggest these dynamic responses arise at least in part from strong control of radial water movement across the vein bundle sheath. While leaf xylem vulnerability may influence leaf and plant survival during extreme drought, outside‐xylem dynamic responses are important for the control and resilience of water transport and leaf water status for gas exchange and growth.

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