Plant hydraulic modelling of leaf and canopy fuel moisture content reveals increasing vulnerability of a Mediterranean forest to wildfires under extreme drought - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles New Phytologist Year : 2023

Plant hydraulic modelling of leaf and canopy fuel moisture content reveals increasing vulnerability of a Mediterranean forest to wildfires under extreme drought

Julien Ruffault
François Pimont
Jean‐luc Dupuy
Russell Parsons
Myriam Moreno
Sylvain Delzon
Albert Olioso
Brendan Choat

Abstract

Fuel moisture content (FMC) is a crucial driver of forest fires in many regions world-wide. Yet, the dynamics of FMC in forest canopies as well as their physiological and environmental determinants remain poorly understood, especially under extreme drought.We embedded a FMC module in the trait-based, plant-hydraulic SurEau-Ecos model to provide innovative process-based predictions of leaf live fuel moisture content (LFMC) and canopy fuel moisture content (CFMC) based on leaf water potential (psi Leaf$$ {\psi}_{\mathrm{Leaf}} $$). SurEau-Ecos-FMC relies on pressure-volume (p-v) curves to simulate LFMC and vulnerability curves to cavitation to simulate foliage mortality.SurEau-Ecos-FMC accurately reproduced psi Leaf$$ {\psi}_{\mathrm{Leaf}} $$ and LFMC dynamics as well as the occurrence of foliage mortality in a Mediterranean Quercus ilex forest. Several traits related to water use (leaf area index, available soil water, and transpiration regulation), vulnerability to cavitation, and p-v curves (full turgor osmotic potential) had the greatest influence on LFMC and CFMC dynamics. As the climate gets drier, our results showed that drought-induced foliage mortality is expected to increase, thereby significantly decreasing CFMC.Our results represent an important advance in our capacity to understand and predict the sensitivity of forests to wildfires.
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hal-04047940 , version 1 (27-03-2023)

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Julien Ruffault, Jean‐marc Limousin, François Pimont, Jean‐luc Dupuy, Miquel de Càceres, et al.. Plant hydraulic modelling of leaf and canopy fuel moisture content reveals increasing vulnerability of a Mediterranean forest to wildfires under extreme drought. New Phytologist, 2023, 237 (4), pp.1256-1269. ⟨10.1111/nph.18614⟩. ⟨hal-04047940⟩
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