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Differences in functional and xylem anatomical features allow Cistus species to co-occur and cope differently with drought in the Mediterranean region

Abstract : A significant increase in drought events frequency is predicted for the next decades induced by climate change, potentially affecting plant species mortality rates and distributions worldwide. The main trigger of plant mortality is xylem hydraulic failure due to embolism and induced by the low pressures at which water is transported through xylem. As the Mediterranean basin will be severely affected by climate change, the aim of this study was to provide novel information about drought resistance and tolerance of one of its most widely distributed and common genera as a case study: the genus Cistus. Different functional and anatomical traits were evaluated in four co-occurring Cistus species in the Mediterranean Montado ecosystem. Soil water availability for each species was also assessed to evaluate if they show different ecological niches within the area. Results showed physiological and xylem anatomical differences between the four co-occurring species, as well as in the soil water availability of the sites they occupy. Despite the significant differences in embolism resistance across species, no trade-off between hydraulic safety and efficiency was observed. Interestingly, species with narrower vessels showed lower resistance to embolism than those with higher proportions of large conduits. No correlation, however, was observed between resistance to embolism and wood density. The four species showed different water-use and drought-tolerance strategies, occupying different ecological niches that would make them cope differently with drought. These results will allow us to improve the predictions about the expected changes in vegetation dynamics in this area due to ongoing climate change.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 2, 2017 - 10:17:55 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - 2:16:02 PM

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Jose Manuel Torres Ruiz, Hervé Cochard, Elsa Fonseca, Eric Badel, Luiz Gazarini, et al.. Differences in functional and xylem anatomical features allow Cistus species to co-occur and cope differently with drought in the Mediterranean region. Tree Physiology, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy B - Oxford Open Option B, 2017, 37 (3), pp.755-766. ⟨10.1093/treephys/tpx013⟩. ⟨hal-01606013⟩

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