Tree plumbing stress approaching tipping point

The hydraulic system of trees is so finely-tuned that predicted increases in drought due to climate change may lead to catastrophic failure in many species. That’s according to a new study that found many plants around the globe are already operating at the top of their drought-stress safety threshold. The new work is based on analyses of existing measures of plant hydraulic safety thresholds in forest species around the world. It was conducted by researchers from the U.S., Germany, and Australia and appears in the journal Nature.

Study co-author Amy Zanne, from George Washington University, said that drought is one of the major forces that shapes forests. “Over the last century, drought has been responsible globally for numerous large-scale forest diebacks. To make effective predictions of how forest landscapes may change in the future, we need to first understand how plants work,” she explained.

The primary challenge plants face during drought is how to keep their plumbing working. Drought stress creates trapped gas emboli in the water system, which reduces the ability of plants to supply water to leaves for photosynthetic gas exchange and can ultimately result in desiccation and death.

“Vulnerability to embolism is one of the main factors determining drought effects on trees,” Zanne says. “However, plants vary dramatically in their resistance to drought-induced embolism, which has made predictions of how forests might be altered under future climates more difficult.”

A surprising fact that the group discovered is that while plants vary greatly in their embolism resistance, they are sitting at similar safety thresholds across all forest types. The team found these thresholds are largely independent of mean annual precipitation. This, said Zanne, explains why drought-induced forest decline occurs in arid as well as wet forests, which had historically not been considered at risk.

Related:
Discuss this article in our forum
“Profound” plant water cycle changes add new wildcard to climate change guesstimates
Forests set to return to Canada’s extreme north
Scientists tip 2025 for possible planetary collapse
Bolivian park may be most biodiverse area on planet

Source: George Washington University

, ,

Comments are closed.

ReLIVE Green Tree with Multicolored Lights, Tabletop Ceramic Tree, 14.5 Inch picture

ReLIVE Green Tree with Multicolored Lights, Tabletop Ceramic Tree, 14.5 Inch

$49.95



Willow Tree Nativity, Sculpted Hand-Painted Nativity Figures picture

Willow Tree Nativity, Sculpted Hand-Painted Nativity Figures

$69.99



7.7ft Tall Lighted Inflatable Christmas Tree Outdoor Decor with 3 Gift Boxes picture

7.7ft Tall Lighted Inflatable Christmas Tree Outdoor Decor with 3 Gift Boxes

$42.99



Merry Christmas Grinch Ornaments Xmas Tree Hanging Decoration Figure Pendant picture

Merry Christmas Grinch Ornaments Xmas Tree Hanging Decoration Figure Pendant

$4.99



Small Vintage Ceramic Christmas Tree with Multi-Color Lights and Cord | 6.5

Small Vintage Ceramic Christmas Tree with Multi-Color Lights and Cord | 6.5"

$17.99



Ornaments for Ceramic Christmas Trees, Medium Twist-Multi Color-100 Pc & 3 stars picture

Ornaments for Ceramic Christmas Trees, Medium Twist-Multi Color-100 Pc & 3 stars

$9.99



Ceramic Christmas Tree Bulbs Lights Small, Med/Large, Twist Stars **FREE SHIP** picture

Ceramic Christmas Tree Bulbs Lights Small, Med/Large, Twist Stars **FREE SHIP**

$7.44



27 Med/Large Twist Lights Bulbs Ceramic Christmas Tree 9 Pretty Colors  picture

27 Med/Large Twist Lights Bulbs Ceramic Christmas Tree 9 Pretty Colors

$7.72



Willow Tree Grandmother, Sculpted Hand-Painted Figure picture

Willow Tree Grandmother, Sculpted Hand-Painted Figure

$29.99



Merry Christmas Grinch Ornaments Xmas Tree Hanging Decoration Figure Pendant USA picture

Merry Christmas Grinch Ornaments Xmas Tree Hanging Decoration Figure Pendant USA

$4.99



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes