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Contrasting water strategies of two Mediterranean shrubs of limited distribution: Uncertain future under a drier climate

AuthorsLázaro-Nogal, Ana; Forner, Alicia ; Traveset, Anna ; Valladares Ros, Fernando
KeywordsLimited-range species
Phenotypic plasticity
Stomatal conductance
Water-use efficiency
Climate change
Issue Date2013
PublisherHeron Publishing
CitationTree Physiology 33: 1284-1295 (2013)
AbstractPlants have evolved different strategies to cope with drought, involving alternative ecophysiologies and different levels of plasticity. These strategies are critical for species of limited distribution, which are especially vulnerable to the current rates of rapid environmental change. The aim of this study was to assess the water strategy of two species with limited distribution, Cneorum tricoccon L. and Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris Chodat., and evaluate their interpopulation variability along an aridity gradient to estimate their vulnerability to a drier climate. We measured different ecophysiological traits influenced by drought - stomatal conductance, maximum photochemical efficiency of photosynthesis II, carbon isotope ratio and chlorophyll concentration - in two climatically contrasting years, before and during summer drought. Both species were vulnerable to drought at the aridity limit of the gradient, but showed contrasting water strategies: while C. tricoccon was consistent in its water conservation strategy across the aridity gradient, R. ludovici-salvatoris was not, displaying higher and more variable stomatal conductances and being able to increase water-use efficiency at the most xeric sites. Changes in length and intensity of drought events may favor one species' strategy to the detriment of the other: C. tricoccon is more vulnerable to chronic and prolonged droughts, whereas short but acute droughts might have a stronger effect on R. ludovici-salvatoris. In those communities where these two species coexist, such different strategies might lead to changes in community structure under climate change scenarios, with unknown cascade effects on ecosystem functioning. © 2013 The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tpt103
Identifiersdoi: 10.1093/treephys/tpt103
issn: 0829-318X
Appears in Collections:(IMEDEA) Artículos
(MNCN) Artículos
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