Timberline – Legacy effects after summer and winter drought

Timberline – Legacy effects after summer and winter droughtPlant water transport is crucial under increasing drought, as expected due to climate change. Drought and freeze-thaw events can induce xylem embolism and lead to shoot or even tree dieback. Plants try to avoid embolism by stomatal adjustment of transpiration or by investing in xylem structures that provide adequate hydraulic safety. Some species can also repair the hydraulic system based on the formation of new xylem or on refilling of dysfunctional conduits. Trees at the timberline were demonstrated to be exposed to extreme winter embolism and to survive by embolism repair.
We aim to improve our knowledge of combined stress effects, counter strategies and legacy effects, spatial hydraulic and stress patterns within timberline trees, and of the effects of different stress intensities on tree hydraulics.

Research activities focus on

  • Monitoring hydraulic efficiency and safety in stressed timberline trees
  • Evaluation of recovery mechanisms (refilling and wood formation)
  • Assessment of remaining hydraulic limitations after recovery
  • Hydraulic architecture and patterns of species growing at the timberline
  • Development of methods to study bole hydraulic traits
  • Water uptake from different soil horizons
  • Effects of stress duration and intensity

Funding
Austrian Science Fund (FWF), P 32203, Pl Stefan Mayr

Personnel involved
Stefan Mayr
Michael Bahn
Andreas Bär
Florian Oberleitner
Birgit Dämon

For project updates, visit us on Researchgate.

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