Responses of two semiarid conifer tree species to reduced precipitation and warming reveal new perspectives for stomatal regulation

Núria Garcia-Forner*, Henry D. Adams, Sanna Sevanto, Adam D. Collins, Lee T. Dickman, Patrick J. Hudson, Melanie J. B. Zeppel, Michael W. Jenkins, Heath Powers, Jordi Martínez-Vilalta, Nate G. Mcdowell

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    102 Citations (Scopus)


    Relatively anisohydric species are predicted to be more predisposed to hydraulic failure than relatively isohydric species, as they operate with narrower hydraulic safety margins. We subjected co-occurring anisohydric Juniperus monosperma and isohydric Pinus edulis trees to warming, reduced precipitation, or both, and measured their gas exchange and hydraulic responses. We found that reductions in stomatal conductance and assimilation by heat and drought were more frequent during relatively moist periods, but these effects were not exacerbated in the combined heat and drought treatment. Counter to expectations, both species exhibited similar gs temporal dynamics in response to drought. Further, whereas P.edulis exhibited chronic embolism, J.monosperma showed very little embolism due to its conservative stomatal regulation and maintenance of xylem water potential above the embolism entry point. This tight stomatal control and low levels of embolism experienced by juniper refuted the notion that very low water potentials during drought are associated with loose stomatal control and with the hypothesis that anisohydric species are more prone to hydraulic failure than isohydric species. Because direct association of stomatal behaviour with embolism resistance can be misleading, we advocate consideration of stomatal behaviour relative to embolism resistance for classifying species drought response strategies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-49
    Number of pages12
    JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


    • Carbon starvation
    • Drought
    • Global change
    • Hydraulic conductivity
    • Hydraulic failure
    • Increased temperature
    • Iso- versus anisohydric behaviour
    • Mortality
    • Stomatal conductance


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