Long-term experimental drought combined with natural extremes accelerate vegetation shift in a Mediterranean holm oak forest

Daijun Liu, Romà Ogaya, Adrià Barbeta, Xiaohong Yang, Josep Peñuelas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    © 2018 Elsevier B.V. Increasing drought combined with natural extremes are expected to accelerate forest die-off and shifts in vegetation in the Mediterranean Basin. However, fewer studies have explored these climate-driven changes in forest ecosystems. A long-term (17-year) experimental drought (−30% precipitation) was established in a Mediterranean holm oak forest with high (H) and low (L) canopies to determine the changes in stem mortality, recruitment and composition shifts. Experimental drought increased annual stem mortality rate at the community level for both H- and L-canopies. Natural drought amplified the effects of experimental drought on stem mortality at the community level and of Q. ilex for H- and L-canopies. The timescales of natural drought, however, varied substantially with canopy types and species, with shorter timescales in L- than H-canopy and for Q. ilex than P. latifolia. Furthermore, experimental drought combined with natural extremes amplified the increases in stem mortality and decreases in growth for L-canopy. Contrasting responses between Q. ilex and P. latifolia for the relative in abundance and growth were observed in L-canopy and drought treatment reinforced the vegetation shift favoring P. latifolia. These findings suggest continuous drought regimes accelerated a vegetation shift, implying potential consequences for the functions and services for water-limited forest ecosystems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
    Volume151
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

    Keywords

    • Frequent extreme droughts
    • Long-term experimental drought
    • Mediterranean forests
    • Recruitment
    • Stem-mortality rate
    • Vegetation shift
    • Water deficits

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