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Forests 2016, 7(9), 203; doi:10.3390/f7090203

Response of Mid-Rotation Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda L.) Physiology and Productivity to Sustained, Moderate Drought on the Western Edge of the Range

1
Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA
2
South Central Climate Science Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Timothy A. Martin
Received: 29 July 2016 / Revised: 25 August 2016 / Accepted: 7 September 2016 / Published: 14 September 2016
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Abstract

The productivity of the approximately 11 million ha of loblolly pine plantations in the southeastern USA could be threatened by decreased water availability in a future climate. To determine the effects of sustained drought on leaf gas exchange, whole-tree water use, and individual tree growth, we examined the response of loblolly pine trees to 100% throughfall exclusion cumulatively spanning the sixth and seventh growing seasons of a plantation in southeastern Oklahoma. Throughfall exclusion reduced volumetric soil water content for 0–12 cm soil depth from 10.8% to 4.8% and for 12–45 cm soil depth from 24.2% to 15.6%. Compared to ambient throughfall trees, leaf water potential of the throughfall exclusion trees became more negative, −0.9 MPa vs. −1.3 MPa for predawn measurements and −1.5 MPa vs. −1.9 MPa for midday measurements. Throughfall exclusion did not significantly reduce leaf gas exchange or tree water use. However, throughfall exclusion significantly reduced leaf biomass by 21% and stem volume growth by 23%. These results indicate that sustained drought may cause downward shifts in leaf quantity to conserve water rather than reducing leaf-level water use. View Full-Text
Keywords: leaf biomass; leaf gas exchange; Pinus taeda; sustained drought; throughfall exclusion; water use leaf biomass; leaf gas exchange; Pinus taeda; sustained drought; throughfall exclusion; water use
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Maggard, A.; Will, R.; Wilson, D.; Meek, C. Response of Mid-Rotation Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda L.) Physiology and Productivity to Sustained, Moderate Drought on the Western Edge of the Range. Forests 2016, 7, 203.

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