The lives of more than two billion people are affected by drought and could benefit from monitoring plant stress in real time. The extensive data collection and in-situ calibration that would be needed for continental scale estimates are difficult to implement in ways that could provide assessments of current conditions.
We used a simple relationship between the atmosphere and plants to extract real-time plant stress. Ordinarily, plant canopies are cooled by leaf water loss through stomata. These small pores in leaf surfaces lose water as they admit CO2 from the atmosphere. This evaporative cooling limits the canopy-atmosphere temperature differential, explaining why summertime mid-day temperatures within forest canopies are cooler than in cities. This cooling mechanism is driven by water uptake from the soil and remains effective until plants are moisture-limited, leading to stomatal closure, and surface heating. This simple relationship led us to speculate that the canopy-atmosphere differential, or “thermal stress”, could provide a real-time index of moisture limitation and of plant water consumption in warm seasons.
Combining the measurements from thousands of land-based weather stations and satellite-based ‘skin temperature’ of the canopy, Seyednasrollah et al. found thermal stress to be a reliable indicator of drought-induced water stress at the continental scale. Comparisons with land-based measurements showed that a 1 °C change in thermal stress is comparable to 1 to 1.2 mm of daily evapotranspiration, depending on site and climate conditions. Read more here.
Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur… [read the report]
Ecology: Tree water balance drives temperate forest responses to drought
The amount of water available to a tree determines its susceptibility to drought. It has been one of the big unknowns in predicting responses to climate change. Here we show that it can be measured:
We apply this model to multiple seasonal droughts with tree transpiration measurements to demonstrate how species and size differences modulate moisture availability across landscapes. The depletion of individual moisture reservoirs can be tracked over the course of droughts and linked to biomass growth and reproductive output. This mass balance approach can predict individual moisture deficit, tree demographic performance, and drought vulnerability throughout forest stands based on measurements from a sample of trees, more here https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ecy.2499
Ecosystem interactions control spring green-up, published in Remote Sensing of Environment
A warming climate is changing the pace of spring green-up. Using remote sensing and a new approach that quantifies the rate of green-up, Seyednasrollah et al show that green-up is fast in the mountains and relatively insensitive to temperature anomalies, while slow development in warm, coastal forests can respond to temperature swings. Confirming experimental evidence, this study shows that spring is compressed in cold climates, delayed in onset but then rapidly progressing to full leaf expansion. Conversely, mountainous forest green-up is more susceptible to intensifying drought and moisture deficit, while coastal areas are relatively resilient. Canopy thermal stress slows leaf development following dry years, but accelerates it following wet years. The study is published in Remote Sensing of Environment.
Mycorrhizal fungi and seedlings change with tree successional status
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in the soil may influence tropical tree dynamics and forest succession. The mechanisms are poorly understood, because the functional characteristics and abundances of tree species and AM fungi are likely to be codependent. We used generalized joint attribute modeling to evaluate if AM fungi are associated with three forest community metrics for a sub-tropical montane forest in Puerto Rico. (read more …)
“Congratulations on your most most downloaded article in Global Change Biology (GCB), “The impacts of increasing drought on forest dynamics, structure, and biodiversity.” Your paper is one of 2016’s 15 most-downloaded, according to Web of Science®.”
On Thursday, December 8, Jim Vose, project leader of the U.S. Forest Service Integrated Forest Science accepted the Chief’s Award – one of the highest honors in the Forest Service — in the category of “Sustaining Forests and Grasslands.” Vose accepted as leader of a team that the award honored for “understanding the impacts of drought on the nation’s forests and grasslands: providing a scientific foundation for effective management responses.” read more…
Probabilistic forecasts of species’ distributions, abundances, and traits require models that accommodate the joint distribution of species and attributes based on combinations of continuous and discrete observations, mostly zeros…
The EnviBayes section of ISBA this year has granted two best posters awards at the ISBA World Conference in Forte Village (June 13th – 17th, Cagliari, Italy). Joint Species distribution modeling: dimension reduction using Dirichlet processesby Daniel Taylor-Rodriguez, postdoc at the Department of Statistical Science Duke University, with Kimberly Kaufield from North Carolina State University, Erin Schliep of University of Missouri, James Clark and Alan Gelfand of Duke University.
To understand the importance of analytical tools such as those provided by Berdanier et al. (2016) in this issue of Tree Physiology, one must understand both the grand challenges facing Earth system modelers, more…
Best poster, 2016 World Meeting, Int Soc Bayesian Analysis
Trait analysis aims to understand relationships between traits, species diversity, and the environment. Current methods could benefit from a model-based probabilistic framework that accommodates covariance between traits and quantifies contributions from inherent trait syndromes, species interactions, and responses to the environment… read more
Berdanier in Tree Physiol: Predictive models for sap flux
Predicting whole-tree water use requires models that accommodate the variation in sap flux between wood types and by depth into the tree. We develop a method for scaling-up flux observations. As an illustrative example, we predict sap flux for a forest in North Carolina, quantifying changes in water use with tree species and size. We include computer software for generating whole-tree flow estimates with other observations in Excel® and the R programming language.
… provides input to the reauthorized National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and the National Climate Assessment (NCA). Produced every 4 years, the NCA evaluates the effects of global climate change on forests, agriculture, rangelands, land and water resources, human health and welfare, and biological diversity, and it projects major trends.