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Wood vs. Canopy Allocation of Aboveground Net Primary Productivity in a Mediterranean Forest during 21 Years of Experimental Rainfall Exclusion

by Romà Ogaya 1,2,* and Josep Peñuelas 1,2
1
CSIC, Global Ecology Unit CREAF-CSIC-UAB, Bellaterra, 08913 Catalonia, Spain
2
CREAF, Cerdanyola del Vallès, 08913 Catalonia, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(10), 1094; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11101094
Received: 18 September 2020 / Revised: 8 October 2020 / Accepted: 9 October 2020 / Published: 14 October 2020
A Mediterranean holm oak forest was subjected to experimental partial rainfall exclusion during 21 consecutive years to study the effects of the expected decrease in water availability for Mediterranean vegetation in the coming decades. Allocation in woody structures and total aboveground allocation were correlated with annual rainfall, whereas canopy allocation and the ratio of wood/canopy allocation were not dependent on rainfall. Fruit productivity was also correlated with annual rainfall, but only in Quercus ilex. In the studied site, there were two types of forest structure: high canopy stand clearly dominated by Quercus ilex, and low canopy stand with more abundance of a tall shrub species, Phillyrea latifolia. In the tall canopy stand, the allocation to woody structures decreased in the experimental rainfall exclusion, but not the allocation to canopy. In the low canopy stand, wood allocation in Quercus ilex was very small in both control and plots with rainfall exclusion, but wood allocation in Phillyrea latifolia was even higher than that obtained in tall canopy plots, especially in the plots receiving the experimental rainfall exclusion. These results highlight likely future changes in the structure and functioning of this ecosystem induced by the decrease in water availability. A serious drop in the capacity to mitigate climate change for this Mediterranean forest can be expected, and the ability of Phillyrea latifolia to take advantage of the limited capacity to cope with drought conditions detected in Quercus ilex makes likely a forthcoming change in species dominance, especially in the low canopy stands. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon sink; climate change; forest dieback; holm oak; Mediterranean forest; tree growth; wood/canopy allocation carbon sink; climate change; forest dieback; holm oak; Mediterranean forest; tree growth; wood/canopy allocation
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Ogaya, R.; Peñuelas, J. Wood vs. Canopy Allocation of Aboveground Net Primary Productivity in a Mediterranean Forest during 21 Years of Experimental Rainfall Exclusion. Forests 2020, 11, 1094.

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