Drought as a Disturbance in Forests: Oxford Bibliographies in Ecology

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Drought is a situation of water deficit of a system, compared to normal conditions. Operational definitions of drought (i.e., those used to identify specific drought events) change depending upon the system under consideration, but they have been historically restricted to climatic, agricultural, hydrologic, and socioeconomic systems. From an ecologic point of view, the literature on drought-related impacts on ecosystems has grown dramatically only in recent years, prompted by our need to predict such impacts under the drier conditions projected for many areas of the Earth as a result of climate change. This article provides a guide to the literature addressing the role of drought as an agent of change in of ecosystem structure and function mediated by vegetation responses. The study of drought responses in plants has traditionally been led by agronomists and plant ecophysiologists, with an emphasis on the understanding of physiological stress or plastic responses. Here we will focus not on mild stress, but on extreme functional responses and drought-related persistent changes in terrestrial, natural, and seminatural ecosystems, considering that agricultural or freshwater ecosystems merit their own review and are beyond the scope of this article. Because of the increasing interest in the causes and consequences of drought-induced vegetation dieback since the early 21st century, many of the references included in this article are relatively recent. This large body of research has been mostly developed for woody communities, and the majority of studies selected here are hence based on woodlands. Nevertheless, we recommend the “Drought” section in the Oxford Bibliography on the “Grassland Biome” for further information.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcology
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2017


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