Embolism recovery strategies and nocturnal water loss across species influenced by biogeographic origin

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Ecology and Evolution, 2019, 9 (9), pp. 5348 - 5361
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2019 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Drought-induced tree mortality is expected to increase in future climates with the potential for significant consequences to global carbon, water, and energy cycles. Xylem embolism can accumulate to lethal levels during drought, but species that can refill embolized xylem and recover hydraulic function may be able to avoid mortality. Yet the potential controls of embolism recovery, including cross-biome patterns and plant traits such as nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs), hydraulic traits, and nocturnal stomatal conductance, are unknown. We exposed eight plant species, originating from mesic (tropical and temperate) and semi-arid environments, to drought under ambient and elevated CO 2 levels, and assessed recovery from embolism following rewatering. We found a positive association between xylem recovery and NSCs, and, surprisingly, a positive relationship between xylem recovery and nocturnal stomatal conductance. Arid-zone species exhibited greater embolism recovery than mesic zone species. Our results indicate that nighttime stomatal conductance often assumed to be a wasteful use of water, may in fact be a key part of plant drought responses, and contribute to drought survival. Findings suggested distinct biome-specific responses that partially depended on species climate-of-origin precipitation or aridity index, which allowed some species to recover from xylem embolism. These findings provide improved understanding required to predict the response of diverse plant communities to drought. Our results provide a framework for predicting future vegetation shifts in response to climate change.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: