Comparing environmental vulnerability in the montane cloud forest of eastern Mexico: A vulnerability index

Manuel Esperón-Rodríguez, Víctor L. Barradas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The montane cloud forest (MCF) is one of the most threatened ecosystems, in spite of its high strategic value for sustainable development, the role it plays in the hydrological cycle maintenance, and as reservoir of endemic biodiversity. For Mexico, this forest is considered the most threatened terrestrial ecosystem at national level because of land-use changes and the effects of global climate change. To compare and assess the environmental vulnerability in the MCF we measured two physiological traits (stomatal conductance and leaf water potential), four climate variables (air temperature, photosynthetically active radiation, vapor pressure deficit, water availability) and the potential geographic distribution of eleven tree species from this forest. We evaluated stomatal conductance responses using the envelope function method (EFM), and after analyzing these responses we developed a vulnerability index that allowed us to compare the environmental vulnerability among species. We proposed the EFM as a useful tool to assess regional environmental vulnerability by comparing species. Our results showed differential species responses to all the studied variables; however, the vulnerability index allowed us to conclude that the most vulnerable species was Liquidambar styraciflua, and the least vulnerable Persea longipes. We also found that temperatures above 34 °C, and vapor pressure deficit above 2.9 kPa with relative humidity below 30% jeopardized the stomatal conductance performance of all species. We also found leaf water potential as the most influential variable over the studied species followed by vapor pressure deficit, showing that even in the MCF water is a determinant factor for species' development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-310
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume52
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Air temperature
  • Envelope function method
  • Environmental vulnerability
  • Leaf water potential
  • Montane cloud forest
  • Photosynthetically active radiation
  • Potential distribution
  • Stomatal conductance
  • Vapor pressure deficit
  • Vulnerability index

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