skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: The ecohydrological context of drought and classification of plant responses

Abstract

Many recent studies on drought-induced vegetation mortality have previously explored how plant functional traits, and classifications of such traits along axes of, e.g., isohydry–anisohydry, might contribute to predicting drought survival and recovery. As these studies proliferate, the consistency and predictive value of such classifications need to be carefully examined. Here, we outline the basis for a systematic classification of plant drought responses that accounts for both environmental conditions and functional traits. We use non-dimensional analysis to integrate plant traits and metrics of environmental variation into groups that can be associated with alternative drought stress pathways (hydraulic failure and carbon limitation), and demonstrate that these groupings predict physiological drought outcomes using both synthetic and measured data. In doing so, we aim to untangle some confounding effects of environment and trait variations that undermine current classification schemes, advocate for more careful treatment of the environmental context within which plants experience and respond to drought, and outline a pathway towards a general classification of drought vulnerability.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [2];  [5];  [6];
  1. Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN USA
  2. Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley CA USA
  3. Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley CA USA; Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley CA USA
  4. Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm Sweden; Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm Sweden
  5. Department of Crop Production Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala Sweden
  6. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley CA USA
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1479456
DOE Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Ecology Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 21; Journal Issue: 11; Journal ID: ISSN 1461-023X
Publisher:
Wiley
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Feng, Xue, Ackerly, David D., Dawson, Todd E., Manzoni, Stefano, Skelton, Rob P., Vico, Giulia, Thompson, Sally E., and Maherali, Hafiz. The ecohydrological context of drought and classification of plant responses. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1111/ele.13139.
Feng, Xue, Ackerly, David D., Dawson, Todd E., Manzoni, Stefano, Skelton, Rob P., Vico, Giulia, Thompson, Sally E., & Maherali, Hafiz. The ecohydrological context of drought and classification of plant responses. United States. doi:10.1111/ele.13139.
Feng, Xue, Ackerly, David D., Dawson, Todd E., Manzoni, Stefano, Skelton, Rob P., Vico, Giulia, Thompson, Sally E., and Maherali, Hafiz. Mon . "The ecohydrological context of drought and classification of plant responses". United States. doi:10.1111/ele.13139.
@article{osti_1479456,
title = {The ecohydrological context of drought and classification of plant responses},
author = {Feng, Xue and Ackerly, David D. and Dawson, Todd E. and Manzoni, Stefano and Skelton, Rob P. and Vico, Giulia and Thompson, Sally E. and Maherali, Hafiz},
abstractNote = {Many recent studies on drought-induced vegetation mortality have previously explored how plant functional traits, and classifications of such traits along axes of, e.g., isohydry–anisohydry, might contribute to predicting drought survival and recovery. As these studies proliferate, the consistency and predictive value of such classifications need to be carefully examined. Here, we outline the basis for a systematic classification of plant drought responses that accounts for both environmental conditions and functional traits. We use non-dimensional analysis to integrate plant traits and metrics of environmental variation into groups that can be associated with alternative drought stress pathways (hydraulic failure and carbon limitation), and demonstrate that these groupings predict physiological drought outcomes using both synthetic and measured data. In doing so, we aim to untangle some confounding effects of environment and trait variations that undermine current classification schemes, advocate for more careful treatment of the environmental context within which plants experience and respond to drought, and outline a pathway towards a general classification of drought vulnerability.},
doi = {10.1111/ele.13139},
journal = {Ecology Letters},
issn = {1461-023X},
number = 11,
volume = 21,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {8}
}

Works referenced in this record:

A hydraulic model to predict drought-induced mortality in woody plants: an application to climate change in the Mediterranean
journal, October 2002


Diurnal changes in embolism rate in nine dry forest trees: relationships with species-specific xylem vulnerability, hydraulic strategy and wood traits
journal, June 2015

  • Trifilò, Patrizia; Nardini, Andrea; Gullo, Maria A. Lo
  • Tree Physiology, Vol. 35, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpv049

Dimensional analysis and the pi theorem
journal, October 1982


Evolution of hydraulic traits in closely related species pairs from mediterranean and nonmediterranean environments of North America
journal, November 2007


Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality
journal, September 2012

  • Park Williams, A.; Allen, Craig D.; Macalady, Alison K.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 3, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1693

On r- and K-Selection
journal, November 1970

  • Pianka, Eric R.
  • The American Naturalist, Vol. 104, Issue 940
  • DOI: 10.1086/282697

Understanding the roles of nonstructural carbohydrates in forest trees – from what we can measure to what we want to know
journal, March 2016

  • Hartmann, Henrik; Trumbore, Susan
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 211, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.13955

Feature: Improving our knowledge of drought-induced forest mortality through experiments, observations, and modeling
journal, September 2013

  • McDowell, Nate G.; Ryan, Michael G.; Zeppel, Melanie J. B.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 200, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.12502

An ecohydrological perspective on drought-induced forest mortality
journal, May 2014

  • Parolari, Anthony J.; Katul, Gabriel G.; Porporato, Amilcare
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 119, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1002/2013JG002592

How do trees die? A test of the hydraulic failure and carbon starvation hypotheses: How do trees die?
journal, June 2013

  • Sevanto, Sanna; Mcdowell, Nate G.; Dickman, L. Turin
  • Plant, Cell & Environment, Vol. 37, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1111/pce.12141

Pragmatic hydraulic theory predicts stomatal responses to climatic water deficits
journal, June 2016

  • Sperry, John S.; Wang, Yujie; Wolfe, Brett T.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 212, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.14059

Gas exchange recovery following natural drought is rapid unless limited by loss of leaf hydraulic conductance: evidence from an evergreen woodland
journal, June 2017

  • Skelton, Robert P.; Brodribb, Timothy J.; McAdam, Scott A. M.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 215, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.14652

The History of Poiseuille's Law
journal, January 1993


Ecohydrological consequences of drought- and infestation- triggered tree die-off: insights and hypotheses
journal, August 2011

  • Adams, Henry D.; Luce, Charles H.; Breshears, David D.
  • Ecohydrology, Vol. 5, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1002/eco.233

Confronting model predictions of carbon fluxes with measurements of Amazon forests subjected to experimental drought
journal, July 2013

  • Powell, Thomas L.; Galbraith, David R.; Christoffersen, Bradley O.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 200, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.12390

Larger trees suffer most during drought in forests worldwide
journal, September 2015


The interdependence of mechanisms underlying climate-driven vegetation mortality
journal, October 2011

  • McDowell, Nate G.; Beerling, David J.; Breshears, David D.
  • Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Vol. 26, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2011.06.003

The dynamic pipeline: hydraulic capacitance and xylem hydraulic safety in four tall conifer species: The dynamic pipeline
journal, December 2013

  • Mcculloh, Katherine A.; Johnson, Daniel M.; Meinzer, Frederick C.
  • Plant, Cell & Environment, Vol. 37, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1111/pce.12225

A synthesis of tree functional traits related to drought-induced mortality in forests across climatic zones
journal, February 2017

  • O'Brien, Michael J.; Engelbrecht, Bettina M. J.; Joswig, Julia
  • Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 54, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12874

Reconciling seasonal hydraulic risk and plant water use through probabilistic soil–plant dynamics
journal, February 2017

  • Feng, Xue; Dawson, Todd E.; Ackerly, David D.
  • Global Change Biology, Vol. 23, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13640

How competitive is drought deciduousness in tropical forests? A combined eco-hydrological and eco-evolutionary approach
journal, May 2017


A functional classification for predicting the dynamics of landscapes
journal, June 1996

  • Noble, Ian R.; Gitay, Habiba
  • Journal of Vegetation Science, Vol. 7, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.2307/3236276

Functional types of trees in temperate and boreal forests: classification and testing
journal, June 1996

  • Bugmann, Harald
  • Journal of Vegetation Science, Vol. 7, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.2307/3236279

Sap flow and sugar transport in plants
journal, September 2016


Optimal control of gas exchange
journal, December 1986


Simulating Water Movement in Layered and Gradational Soils Using the Kirchhoff Transform
journal, January 1990


Drought and ecosystem carbon cycling
journal, July 2011


Iso/Anisohydry: A Plant–Environment Interaction Rather Than a Simple Hydraulic Trait
journal, February 2018


Low Vulnerability to Xylem Embolism in Leaves and Stems of North American Oaks
journal, May 2018

  • Skelton, Robert Paul; Dawson, Todd E.; Thompson, Sally E.
  • Plant Physiology, Vol. 177, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1104/pp.18.00103

Anthropogenic warming has increased drought risk in California
journal, March 2015

  • Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Swain, Daniel L.; Touma, Danielle
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 112, Issue 13
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1422385112

Tree mortality from drought, insects, and their interactions in a changing climate
journal, June 2015

  • Anderegg, William R. L.; Hicke, Jeffrey A.; Fisher, Rosie A.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 208, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.13477

Nonstructural leaf carbohydrate dynamics of Pinus edulis during drought-induced tree mortality reveal role for carbon metabolism in mortality mechanism
journal, January 2013

  • Adams, Henry D.; Germino, Matthew J.; Breshears, David D.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 197, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.12102

Evaluating theories of drought-induced vegetation mortality using a multimodel-experiment framework
journal, September 2013

  • McDowell, Nate G.; Fisher, Rosie A.; Xu, Chonggang
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 200, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.12465

A multi-species synthesis of physiological mechanisms in drought-induced tree mortality
journal, August 2017

  • Adams, Henry D.; Zeppel, Melanie J. B.; Anderegg, William R. L.
  • Nature Ecology & Evolution, Vol. 1, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0248-x

What plant hydraulics can tell us about responses to climate-change droughts
journal, March 2015

  • Sperry, John S.; Love, David M.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 207, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.13354

Drought response strategies define the relative contributions of hydraulic dysfunction and carbohydrate depletion during tree mortality
journal, December 2012

  • Mitchell, Patrick J.; O'Grady, Anthony P.; Tissue, David T.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 197, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.12064

Plant resistance to drought depends on timely stomatal closure
journal, September 2017

  • Martin-StPaul, Nicolas; Delzon, Sylvain; Cochard, Hervé
  • Ecology Letters, Vol. 20, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1111/ele.12851

Soil Water Balance and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change
journal, November 2004

  • Porporato, Amilcare; Daly, Edoardo; Rodriguez‐Iturbe, Ignacio
  • The American Naturalist, Vol. 164, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1086/424970

Adaptation to Sun and Shade: a Whole-Plant Perspective
journal, January 1988


Plants in water-controlled ecosystems: active role in hydrologic processes and response to water stress
journal, July 2001


Global sensitivity indices for nonlinear mathematical models and their Monte Carlo estimates
journal, February 2001


TRY - a global database of plant traits: TRY - A GLOBAL DATABASE OF PLANT TRAITS
journal, June 2011


Consequences of widespread tree mortality triggered by drought and temperature stress
journal, September 2012

  • Anderegg, William R. L.; Kane, Jeffrey M.; Anderegg, Leander D. L.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 3, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1635

Further evidence that some plants can lose and regain hydraulic function daily
journal, July 2015


Trait-based representation of hydrological functional properties of plants in weather and ecosystem models
journal, February 2017

  • Matheny, Ashley M.; Mirfenderesgi, Golnazalsadat; Bohrer, Gil
  • Plant Diversity, Vol. 39, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2016.10.001

Not all droughts are created equal: translating meteorological drought into woody plant mortality
journal, July 2013

  • Anderegg, L. D. L.; Anderegg, W. R. L.; Berry, J. A.
  • Tree Physiology, Vol. 33, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpt044

A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests
journal, February 2010

  • Allen, Craig D.; Macalady, Alison K.; Chenchouni, Haroun
  • Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 259, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.09.001

Optimal plant water-use strategies under stochastic rainfall
journal, July 2014

  • Manzoni, Stefano; Vico, Giulia; Katul, Gabriel
  • Water Resources Research, Vol. 50, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014WR015375

Predicting plant vulnerability to drought in biodiverse regions using functional traits
journal, April 2015

  • Skelton, Robert Paul; West, Adam G.; Dawson, Todd E.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 112, Issue 18
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1503376112

Mechanisms of plant survival and mortality during drought: why do some plants survive while others succumb to drought?
journal, June 2008


The correlations and sequence of plant stomatal, hydraulic, and wilting responses to drought
journal, November 2016

  • Bartlett, Megan K.; Klein, Tamir; Jansen, Steven
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, Issue 46
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1604088113

A global meta-analysis of the relative extent of intraspecific trait variation in plant communities
journal, September 2015

  • Siefert, Andrew; Violle, Cyrille; Chalmandrier, Loïc
  • Ecology Letters, Vol. 18, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1111/ele.12508

Thirst beats hunger - declining hydration during drought prevents carbon starvation in Norway spruce saplings
journal, May 2013

  • Hartmann, Henrik; Ziegler, Waldemar; Kolle, Olaf
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 200, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.12331

Coordination of physiological traits involved in drought-induced mortality of woody plants
journal, May 2015

  • Mencuccini, Maurizio; Minunno, Francesco; Salmon, Yann
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 208, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.13461

A mathematical and statistical analysis of the curves illustrating vulnerability of xylem to cavitation
journal, August 1998


Drought Sensitivity of the Amazon Rainforest
journal, March 2009


Sap flow and water use in African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) seedlings in response to drought stress
journal, September 2013


Hydrologic refugia, plants, and climate change
journal, March 2017

  • McLaughlin, Blair C.; Ackerly, David D.; Klos, P. Zion
  • Global Change Biology, Vol. 23, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13629

Mechanisms Linking Drought, Hydraulics, Carbon Metabolism, and Vegetation Mortality
journal, January 2011


Tree mortality predicted from drought-induced vascular damage
journal, March 2015

  • Anderegg, William R. L.; Flint, Alan; Huang, Cho-ying
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 8, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2400

Multiple strategies for drought survival among woody plant species
journal, August 2015

  • Pivovaroff, Alexandria L.; Pasquini, Sarah C.; De Guzman, Mark E.
  • Functional Ecology, Vol. 30, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12518

Xylem embolism threshold for catastrophic hydraulic failure in angiosperm trees
journal, May 2013


Meta-analysis reveals that hydraulic traits explain cross-species patterns of drought-induced tree mortality across the globe
journal, April 2016

  • Anderegg, William R. L.; Klein, Tamir; Bartlett, Megan
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, Issue 18
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1525678113

Future deforestation in the Amazon and consequences for South American climate
journal, December 2015


Drought survival of tropical tree seedlings enhanced by non-structural carbohydrate levels
journal, June 2014

  • O’Brien, Michael J.; Leuzinger, Sebastian; Philipson, Christopher D.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 4, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2281

A biochemical model of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation in leaves of C3 species
journal, June 1980

  • Farquhar, G. D.; von Caemmerer, S.; Berry, J. A.
  • Planta, Vol. 149, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1007/BF00386231

Limitation of plant water use by rhizosphere and xylem conductance: results from a model
journal, April 1998


Conducting sapwood area, foliage area, and permeability in mature trees of Picea sitchensis and Pinus contorta
journal, December 1984

  • Whitehead, D.; Edwards, W. R. N.; Jarvis, P. G.
  • Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 14, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1139/x84-166

Coupled Dynamics of Photosynthesis, Transpiration, and Soil Water Balance. Part I: Upscaling from Hourly to Daily Level
journal, June 2004


Changes in rainfall seasonality in the tropics
journal, May 2013

  • Feng, Xue; Porporato, Amilcare; Rodriguez-Iturbe, Ignacio
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 3, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1907

Plant functional types in Earth system models: past experiences and future directions for application of dynamic vegetation models in high-latitude ecosystems
journal, May 2014

  • Wullschleger, Stan D.; Epstein, Howard E.; Box, Elgene O.
  • Annals of Botany, Vol. 114, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcu077

Xylem hydraulic safety margins in woody plants: coordination of stomatal control of xylem tension with hydraulic capacitance
journal, October 2009


On the effects of seasonality on soil water balance and plant growth: SEASONALITY IN WATER BALANCE AND PLANT GROWTH
journal, May 2012

  • Feng, Xue; Vico, Giulia; Porporato, Amilcare
  • Water Resources Research, Vol. 48, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011WR011263

Predicting stomatal responses to the environment from the optimization of photosynthetic gain and hydraulic cost: A stomatal optimization model
journal, December 2016

  • Sperry, John S.; Venturas, Martin D.; Anderegg, William R. L.
  • Plant, Cell & Environment, Vol. 40, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1111/pce.12852

Empirical equations for some soil hydraulic properties
journal, August 1978


Death from drought in tropical forests is triggered by hydraulics not carbon starvation
journal, November 2015

  • Rowland, L.; da Costa, A. C. L.; Galbraith, D. R.
  • Nature, Vol. 528, Issue 7580
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature15539