Drought Tolerance Traits and Growth in Trees

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecophysiology and Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2023) | Viewed by 6725

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Hawkesbury Institute for The Environment, Western Sydney University, Richmond, NSW 2753, Australia
Interests: plant ecophysiology; climate change; drought; heatwaves; transpiration; forest ecology; urban ecology

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Guest Editor
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
Interests: plant ecophysiology; conservation; functional traits; invasion; phenotypic plasticity; population modelling; resource limitation; stress physiology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The rapidly warming climate in the Anthropocene is threatening all of Earth’s forest ecosystems. The spatial extent and duration of recent droughts are unprecedented and have caused widespread impacts, ranging from changes in forest community composition and large-scale tree mortality to unprecedented forest wildfires. There is increasing awareness that forests stabilize the global climate, and not only Earth’s natural forests, but also it’s urban forests. A key challenge for forest science is to improve our understanding of how drought affects the morphological and physiological properties of trees and what the consequences of these changes are for growth, survival, and reproduction, as this will impact management of natural forests, restoration of degraded forests, and species selection in urban forests. For this Special Issue, we invite studies on tree responses to drought that include measurements of (1) plant functional traits related to drought tolerance and/or (2) whole-plant performance metrics (e.g., growth). Research articles using experimentally simulated droughts or observations made during naturally-occurring droughts, whether at the tree, site, or landscape scale, in natural or urban forests, are welcome. We particularly encourage studies from the Southern Hemisphere and developing countries that are underrepresented in the literature.

Dr. Renée M. Marchin
Dr. Andrea C. Westerband
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • climate change
  • ecophysiology
  • functional traits
  • global change
  • local adaptation
  • plasticity
  • tree growth
  • tree survival
  • reproduction
  • whole-plant performance

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 2621 KiB  
Article
Health and Growth of Black Pine outside Its Natural Distribution Range in the Romanian Carpathians
by Gheorghe-Marian Tudoran, Avram Cicșa, Alexandru-Claudiu Dobre, Maria Cicșa, Ionuț-Silviu Pascu and Ştefan Leca
Forests 2023, 14(5), 884; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14050884 - 25 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1301
Abstract
In the last decade, coniferous stands outside their natural range in Romania have experienced declines in both their health and growth and, in tandem with global climate trends, these forests are becoming even more threatened. We studied the relationship between tree growth and [...] Read more.
In the last decade, coniferous stands outside their natural range in Romania have experienced declines in both their health and growth and, in tandem with global climate trends, these forests are becoming even more threatened. We studied the relationship between tree growth and defoliation as an indicator of tree health. The data came from black pine stands monitored from 2012 to 2021 in the Postăvarul Massif in the Romanian Carpathians. Analyses were carried out on 508 individual trees based on their defoliation and radial growth data and also at the stand level. The results revealed an increase in the percentage of tree defoliation from 17% to 38% during the studied decade, along with 13.5% tree mortality. Over the decade, radial growth showed a negative trend, driven significantly by defoliation. The biometric parameters of the trees did not influence their percentage of defoliation. In contrast, spring/summer droughts associated with high temperatures affect the health and growth of trees. Models generated from the temperature–defoliation–radial-growth relationship estimated a significant continuous reduction in the radial growth of the trees of 0.5%–0.6% for each 1% increase in defoliation. Under the site conditions of the investigated stands, an increase in basal area and stocking degree significantly increased stand defoliation. This was further accentuated when the pine stand included an understory of young trees. As a rule, in the interest of production, stands are kept dense to fully exploit the site, but thinning may become necessary to protect these stands and ensure their survival as the climate changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drought Tolerance Traits and Growth in Trees)
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15 pages, 2828 KiB  
Article
Three Subtropical Species Adapt to Drought by Reallocating Biomass and Adjusting Root Architecture
by Zhenya Yang, Jiancheng Zhao, Huijing Ni, Hui Wang and Benzhi Zhou
Forests 2023, 14(4), 806; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14040806 - 14 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1498
Abstract
The drought tolerance of plants is significantly influenced by their root architecture traits and root adaptive strategies, but the key root architecture traits that affect drought tolerance and the differences in drought adaptative strategies of species with varying root architectures are not yet [...] Read more.
The drought tolerance of plants is significantly influenced by their root architecture traits and root adaptive strategies, but the key root architecture traits that affect drought tolerance and the differences in drought adaptative strategies of species with varying root architectures are not yet clear. This study aimed to investigate the response of three species’ roots to drought and evaluate the key root architecture traits affecting the drought tolerance of the three species. One-year-old potted seedlings of three species [Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook.), masson pine (Pinus massoniana (Lamb.)), and moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis (Carr.) H. de Lehaie f. edulis)] were planted in a greenhouse under three drought conditions (sufficient water supply, moderate drought, and severe drought) for 90 days. Biomass, root morphology [root surface area (RSA), root length (RL), root diameter (RD)], root architecture [root topological index (TI), fractal dimension (FD), and root branching angle (RBA)] of seedlings were measured monthly. The drought tolerance of species was quantified by studying the response ratio (RR) of root length and biomass in response to drought. We found that: (i) different levels of drought inhibited the biomass accumulation and root growth of the three species, and drought tolerance showed a decreasing order as pine > Chinese fir > bamboo; (ii) drought decreased the RD in bamboo but increased it in pine. Both bamboo and Chinese fir reduced their FD and RBA under drought stress, while pine was relatively stable. All the three species’ roots tended to develop a herringbone branching architecture (increase their TI) under drought stress; (iii) both TI and FD were negatively correlated with the drought tolerance of the seedlings. Our results indicated that plants could adapt to drought by different strategies such as adjusting biomass allocation and root morphology, reducing root branch strength, and branching angles. Roots with narrower branching angles, greater branching complexity, larger TI, and consuming higher cost are more drought-tolerant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drought Tolerance Traits and Growth in Trees)
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18 pages, 6503 KiB  
Article
Growth, Xylem Vulnerability to Cavitation and Leaf Cell Response to Dehydration in Tree Seedlings of the Caribbean Dry Forest
by Eléonore Mira, Hervé Cochard, André Evette and Maguy Dulormne
Forests 2023, 14(4), 697; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14040697 - 28 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1679
Abstract
The characterisation of ecological strategies to predict drought response is still lacking for Caribbean dry forest seedlings. This study documents growth characteristics and tolerance to drought via xylem hydraulic and leaf cell properties of three dominant native species of the Caribbean dry forest. [...] Read more.
The characterisation of ecological strategies to predict drought response is still lacking for Caribbean dry forest seedlings. This study documents growth characteristics and tolerance to drought via xylem hydraulic and leaf cell properties of three dominant native species of the Caribbean dry forest. Twenty morphological and physiological traits were assessed in Citharexylum spinosum, Guaiacum officinale and Guapira fragrans in greenhouse conditions. The seedlings displayed contrasting growth rates, which were positively correlated with the capacity to quickly develop a large leaf area and root fraction. The three species had a similar xylem tolerance to embolism (P50: −4 MPa) but differed in leaf cell tolerance to dehydration, which was negatively correlated with RGR (R2 > 0.87). The slowest-growing, G. officinale, had high leaf tolerance to cell dehydration due to low ΨTLP and πo, but displayed a narrow hydraulic safety margin. The leaves of the fast-growing C. spinosum were sensitive to leaf dehydration but exhibited a surprisingly wide stem hydraulic safety margin. G. fragrans had intermediate traits. Our results showed that dry forest seedling growth in similar environments can exhibit distinct carbon growth strategies as well as contrasting water-use strategies, primarily as they relate to drought resistance, due to variation in root development and leaf cell resistance to dehydration. Our study thus provides an approach to estimate species performance under drought conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drought Tolerance Traits and Growth in Trees)
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15 pages, 5866 KiB  
Article
Non-Structural Carbohydrates and Growth Adaptation Strategies of Quercus mongolica Fisch. ex Ledeb. Seedlings under Drought Stress
by Yu Wang, Xiaoyi Han, Wanfeng Ai, Hao Zhan, Sujuan Ma and Xiujun Lu
Forests 2023, 14(2), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14020404 - 16 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1453
Abstract
Under drought stress, plants can change their morphology, physiological characteristics, and carbon allocation to maintain survival and growth. Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) are major substrates for plant metabolism and play an important role in seedling survival and growth under drought conditions. Mongolian oak ( [...] Read more.
Under drought stress, plants can change their morphology, physiological characteristics, and carbon allocation to maintain survival and growth. Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) are major substrates for plant metabolism and play an important role in seedling survival and growth under drought conditions. Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica Fisch. ex Ledeb.), a constructive species distributed in northeast China, has a high drought tolerance. However, studies on seedling growth and the NSC dynamics of Mongolian oak under different drought intensities and durations are limited. To investigate this, our study measured photosynthetic characteristics, growth, biomass, and NSC concentrations for Mongolian oak seedlings on the 0, 15th, 30th, 45th, and 60th day of the experiment under three soil moisture conditions [75% ± 5% (CK), 50% ± 5% (W1), and 23% ± 5% (W2) of soil moisture field capacity (FC)]. Results showed that the growth and biomass gradually decreased as the soil moisture decreased, but the root: shoot ratio and root biomass allocation ratio gradually increased. In the W1 treatment (moderate drought), NSC content in the stems and taproots was 7.42% and 16.39% higher than those in CK at 60 days. However, in W2 treatment (severe drought), NSC content in the stems and taproots was significantly higher than those in CK during the whole period (p < 0.05), and they were 14.14% and 26.69% higher than those in CK at 60 days. We found that, under drought stress, Mongolian oak seedlings had lower growth but higher allocation to root biomass and higher NSC content in stems and roots. Furthermore, the root system became a vital carbon sink under drought stress and was beneficial for seedling survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drought Tolerance Traits and Growth in Trees)
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