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Strategies shrubby junipers adopt to tolerate drought differ by site

Drought-induced dieback episodes are globally reported among forest ecosystems but they have been understudied in scrublands. Chronically-stressed individuals are supposed to be more vulnerable prior to drought which triggers death. Drought-triggered dieback and mortality events affecting Mediterranean Juniperus phoenicea scrublands were analyzed in two sites with contrasting climate and soil conditions located in Spain. The radial growth patterns of coexisting living and dead junipers, including the calculation of growth statistics used as early-warning signals, quantified growth response to climate, were characterized and the wood C and O isotope discrimination was analyzed. In the inland, continental site with rocky substrates (Yaso, Huesca, N Spain), dead junipers grew less than living junipers about three decades prior to the dieback started in 2016. However, in the coastal, mild site with sandy soils (Doñana, Huelva, SW Spain), dead junipers were smaller but grew more than living junipers about two decades before the dieback onset in 2005. The only common patterns between sites were the higher growth coherence in both living and dead junipers prior to the dieback, and the decrease in growth persistence of dead junipers. Cool and wet conditions in the prior winter and current spring, and cool summer conditions enhanced juniper growth. In Doñana, growth of living individuals was more reduced by warm July conditions than in the case of dead individuals. Higher ?13C values in Yaso indicate also more pronounced drought stress. In Yaso, dead junipers presented lower ?18O values, but the opposite occurred in Doñana suggesting different changes in stomatal conductance prior to death. Warm summer conditions enhance evapotranspiration rates and trigger dieback in this shallow-rooted species, particularly in sites with a poor water-holding capacity. Chronic, slow growth is not always a reliable predictor of drought-triggered mortality. informacion[at] Camarero et al (2020) Dieback and mortality of junipers caused by drought: Dissimilar growth and wood isotope patterns preceding shrub death. Agr Forest Meteorol 291, 108078. DOI 10.1016/j.agrformet.2020.108078
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Eucalypt plantations disturb the development of amphibian larvae

Eucalypt plantations disturb the development of amphibian larvae

Consequences of human actions like global warming, spread of exotic species or resource consumption are pushing species to extinction. Even species considered to be at low extinction risk often show signs of local declines. Here, the impact of eucalypt plantations, the best-known exotic tree species worldwide, was evaluated as well as its interaction with temperature and predators on amphibian development, growth, antipredator responses and physiology. For this purpose, a fully factorial experiment was applied crossing two types of leaf litter (native oak or eucalypt), two temperatures (15 and 20°C) and presence/absence of native predators. Leachates of eucalypt leaf litter reduced amphibian development and growth, compromised their antipredator responses and altered their metabolic rate. Increased temperature itself also posed serious alterations on development, growth, antioxidant ability and the immune status of tadpoles. However, the combined effects of eucalypt leaf litter and increased temperature were additive, not synergistic. Therefore, non-lethal levels of a globally spread disruptor such as leachates from eucalypt leaf litter can seriously impact the life history and physiology of native amphibian populations. This study highlights the need to evaluate the status of wild populations exposed to human activities even if not at an obvious immediate risk of extinction, based on reliable stress markers, in order to anticipate demographic declines that may be hard to reverse once started. Replacing eucalypt plantations with native trees in protected areas would help improving the health of local amphibian larvae. In zones of economic interest, providing patches of native vegetation around ponds and removing eucalypt leaf litter from pond basins during their dry phase is recommend. informacion[at] Burraco et al (2018) Eucalypt leaf litter impairs growth and development of amphibian larvae, inhibits their antipredator responses and alters their physiology. Conserv Physiol DOI 10.1093/conphys/coy066