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Consistently lower sap velocity and growth over nine years of rainfall exclusion in a Mediterranean mixed pine-oak forest

Abstract : Mediterranean forests face an intensification of droughts caused by ongoing climate change. To improve our understanding of tree and forest responses to increasing drought, we explored over nine years, the effects of a 30% rainfall exclusion experiment on the water potential, sap velocity and primary and secondary growth of two co-occurring species (Quercus ilex and Pinus halepensis) in a French Mediterranean forest. In addition, native embolism was measured after six and nine years of exclusion onset. Water potentials decreased earlier during summer drought for both species in the rainfall exclusion plot, and to a higher extent during the drought peak for Q. ilex, involving earlier stomatal closure and reduced sap velocity. Sap velocity reduction persisted throughout the years in the exclusion plot. Outside summer the water potential difference between predawn and midday was similar between treatment which indicate that reduced water transport efficiency may be linked to decrease hydraulic conductance. Such differences were neither related to differences in xylem embolism, that remained similar between treatments, nor to change in secondary growth. In contrast primary growth measurements indicate that P. halepensis trees, and Q. ilex to a lesser extent, experienced reduction in total leaf areas in response to the rainfall exclusion. Globally, our results suggest that increase drought lead, for both species, to a decrease in sap velocity not mediated by increase embolism but rather by a reduction in primary growth. So far little conclusion can be drawn regarding the competitive advantage of one species over the other in the context of increasing drought related to climate change.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, August 17, 2021 - 2:19:46 PM
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Myriam Moreno, Guillaume Simioni, Maxime Cailleret, Julien Ruffault, Eric Badel, et al.. Consistently lower sap velocity and growth over nine years of rainfall exclusion in a Mediterranean mixed pine-oak forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 2021, 308-309, pp.108472. ⟨10.1016/j.agrformet.2021.108472⟩. ⟨hal-03321323⟩



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