Why is tree drought mortality so hard to predict?

Trends in Ecology and Evolution
By: , and 



Widespread tree mortality following droughts has emerged as an environmentally and economically devastating ‘ecological surprise’. It is well established that tree physiology is important in understanding drought-driven mortality; however, the accuracy of predictions based on physiology alone has been limited. We propose that complicating factors at two levels stymie predictions of drought-driven mortality: (i) organismal-level physiological and site factors that obscure understanding of drought exposure and vulnerability and (ii) community-level ecological interactions, particularly with biotic agents whose effects on tree mortality may reverse expectations based on stress physiology. We conclude with a path forward that emphasizes the need for an integrative approach to stress physiology and biotic agent dynamics when assessing forest risk to drought-driven morality in a changing climate.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Why is tree drought mortality so hard to predict?
Series title Trends in Ecology and Evolution
DOI 10.1016/j.tree.2021.02.001
Volume 36
Issue 6
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 4 p.
First page 520
Last page 523
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