Functional traits predict drought performance and distribution of Mediterranean woody species

B. Lopez-Iglesias, R. Villar, L. Poorter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Water availability is one of the key environmental factors that affect plant establishment and distribution. In many regions water availability will decline with climate change, exposing small seedlings to a greater likelihood of drought. In this study, 17 leaves, stem, root, and whole-plant traits of ten woody Mediterranean species were measured under favourable growing conditions and seedling drought survival was evaluated during a simulated dry-down episode. The aims of this study were: i) to assess drought survival of different species, ii) to analyse which functional traits predict drought survival time, and iii) to explain species distribution in the field, based on species drought survival and drought strategies. Drought survival time varied ten-fold across species, from 19 to 192 days. Across species, drought survival was positively related to the rooting depth per leaf area, i.e., the ability to acquire water from deeper soil layers while reducing transpiring leaf area. Drought survival time was negatively related to species ability to grow quickly, as indicated by high relative growth and net assimilation rates. Drought survival also explained species distribution in the field. It was found that species were sorted along a continuum, ranging between two contrasting species functional extremes based on functional traits and drought performance. One extreme consisted of acquisitive fast-growing deciduous species, with thin, soft metabolically active leaves, with high resource use and vulnerability to drought. The opposite extreme consisted of conservative slow-growing evergreen species with sclerophyllous leaves, deep roots, a low transpiring area, and low water use, resulting in high drought survival and drought tolerance. The results show that these drought strategies shape species distribution in this Mediterranean area
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-18
JournalActa Oecologica-International Journal of Ecology
Volume56
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Fingerprint

drought
biogeography
distribution
water availability
leaf area
water
seedling
leaves
net assimilation rate
seedlings
plant establishment
drought tolerance
rooting
resource use
water use
vulnerability
environmental factor
climate change
tolerance
stem

Keywords

  • trade-offs
  • niche differentiation
  • seedling survival
  • rooting depth
  • plant traits
  • quercus-ilex
  • rain-forest
  • tolerance
  • water
  • growth

Cite this

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title = "Functional traits predict drought performance and distribution of Mediterranean woody species",
abstract = "Water availability is one of the key environmental factors that affect plant establishment and distribution. In many regions water availability will decline with climate change, exposing small seedlings to a greater likelihood of drought. In this study, 17 leaves, stem, root, and whole-plant traits of ten woody Mediterranean species were measured under favourable growing conditions and seedling drought survival was evaluated during a simulated dry-down episode. The aims of this study were: i) to assess drought survival of different species, ii) to analyse which functional traits predict drought survival time, and iii) to explain species distribution in the field, based on species drought survival and drought strategies. Drought survival time varied ten-fold across species, from 19 to 192 days. Across species, drought survival was positively related to the rooting depth per leaf area, i.e., the ability to acquire water from deeper soil layers while reducing transpiring leaf area. Drought survival time was negatively related to species ability to grow quickly, as indicated by high relative growth and net assimilation rates. Drought survival also explained species distribution in the field. It was found that species were sorted along a continuum, ranging between two contrasting species functional extremes based on functional traits and drought performance. One extreme consisted of acquisitive fast-growing deciduous species, with thin, soft metabolically active leaves, with high resource use and vulnerability to drought. The opposite extreme consisted of conservative slow-growing evergreen species with sclerophyllous leaves, deep roots, a low transpiring area, and low water use, resulting in high drought survival and drought tolerance. The results show that these drought strategies shape species distribution in this Mediterranean area",
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Functional traits predict drought performance and distribution of Mediterranean woody species. / Lopez-Iglesias, B.; Villar, R.; Poorter, L.

In: Acta Oecologica-International Journal of Ecology, Vol. 56, 2014, p. 10-18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Functional traits predict drought performance and distribution of Mediterranean woody species

AU - Lopez-Iglesias, B.

AU - Villar, R.

AU - Poorter, L.

PY - 2014

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N2 - Water availability is one of the key environmental factors that affect plant establishment and distribution. In many regions water availability will decline with climate change, exposing small seedlings to a greater likelihood of drought. In this study, 17 leaves, stem, root, and whole-plant traits of ten woody Mediterranean species were measured under favourable growing conditions and seedling drought survival was evaluated during a simulated dry-down episode. The aims of this study were: i) to assess drought survival of different species, ii) to analyse which functional traits predict drought survival time, and iii) to explain species distribution in the field, based on species drought survival and drought strategies. Drought survival time varied ten-fold across species, from 19 to 192 days. Across species, drought survival was positively related to the rooting depth per leaf area, i.e., the ability to acquire water from deeper soil layers while reducing transpiring leaf area. Drought survival time was negatively related to species ability to grow quickly, as indicated by high relative growth and net assimilation rates. Drought survival also explained species distribution in the field. It was found that species were sorted along a continuum, ranging between two contrasting species functional extremes based on functional traits and drought performance. One extreme consisted of acquisitive fast-growing deciduous species, with thin, soft metabolically active leaves, with high resource use and vulnerability to drought. The opposite extreme consisted of conservative slow-growing evergreen species with sclerophyllous leaves, deep roots, a low transpiring area, and low water use, resulting in high drought survival and drought tolerance. The results show that these drought strategies shape species distribution in this Mediterranean area

AB - Water availability is one of the key environmental factors that affect plant establishment and distribution. In many regions water availability will decline with climate change, exposing small seedlings to a greater likelihood of drought. In this study, 17 leaves, stem, root, and whole-plant traits of ten woody Mediterranean species were measured under favourable growing conditions and seedling drought survival was evaluated during a simulated dry-down episode. The aims of this study were: i) to assess drought survival of different species, ii) to analyse which functional traits predict drought survival time, and iii) to explain species distribution in the field, based on species drought survival and drought strategies. Drought survival time varied ten-fold across species, from 19 to 192 days. Across species, drought survival was positively related to the rooting depth per leaf area, i.e., the ability to acquire water from deeper soil layers while reducing transpiring leaf area. Drought survival time was negatively related to species ability to grow quickly, as indicated by high relative growth and net assimilation rates. Drought survival also explained species distribution in the field. It was found that species were sorted along a continuum, ranging between two contrasting species functional extremes based on functional traits and drought performance. One extreme consisted of acquisitive fast-growing deciduous species, with thin, soft metabolically active leaves, with high resource use and vulnerability to drought. The opposite extreme consisted of conservative slow-growing evergreen species with sclerophyllous leaves, deep roots, a low transpiring area, and low water use, resulting in high drought survival and drought tolerance. The results show that these drought strategies shape species distribution in this Mediterranean area

KW - trade-offs

KW - niche differentiation

KW - seedling survival

KW - rooting depth

KW - plant traits

KW - quercus-ilex

KW - rain-forest

KW - tolerance

KW - water

KW - growth

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DO - 10.1016/j.actao.2014.01.003

M3 - Article

VL - 56

SP - 10

EP - 18

JO - Acta Oecologica-International Journal of Ecology

JF - Acta Oecologica-International Journal of Ecology

SN - 1146-609X

ER -