Drought: detrimental impact on the growth and survival of larger trees

Large trees — key climate influencers — die first in drought

First systematic review of patterns, 38 worldwide forests studied

Source:DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

Living trees soak up greenhouse gas and store it for a long time in their woody tissues, but dying trees release it--a carbon sink becomes a carbon source. Credit: © korvit / Fotolia -  http://images.sciencedaily.com/2015/09/150929142248_1_540x360.jpg
Living trees soak up greenhouse gas and store it for a long time in their woody tissues, but dying trees release it–a carbon sink becomes a carbon source.
Credit: © korvit / Fotolia – http://images.sciencedaily.com/2015/09/150929142248_1_540x360.jpg

Summary:In forests worldwide, drought consistently has had a more detrimental impact on the growth and survival of larger trees, new research shows. In addition, while the death of small trees may affect the dominance of trees in a landscape, the death of large trees has a far worse impact on the ecosystem and climate’s health, especially due to the important role that trees play in the carbon cycle.

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In forests worldwide, drought consistently has had a more detrimental impact on the growth and survival of larger trees, new research shows. In addition, while the death of small trees may affect the dominance of trees in a landscape, the death of large trees has a far worse impact on the ecosystem and climate’s health, especially due to the important role that trees play in the carbon cycle.

“Previous studies at a few sites had shown that large trees suffer more than small trees during and after droughts, and our theory suggested this should be a globally consistent pattern, but this project was the first to test this hypothesis globally.” said Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Nate McDowell, a renowned forest ecologist and plant physiologist who coauthored a paper in the journal Nature Plants highlighting this research.

Read the full article: Science Daily

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.