The Role of Nutrients in Drought-Induced Mortality and Recovery
This paper synthesizes research to generate hypotheses on how nutrient availability influences the likelihood of drought-induced mortality, and the recovery of ecosystems after drought.
This study proposes new frontiers in research on how trees die and survive during drought and how they recover post-drought.
Global forests are experiencing hotter temperatures and more frequent droughts, causing an acceleration in tree mortality. Current research on drought-induced mortality is focused on the carbon- and water-related mechanisms of death, and so far have ignored the potentially critical role of nutrients. High nutrient availability is likely a detriment to drought survival, thus areas of nitrogen deposition should be more predisposed to death. Nutrients are released after drought ceases, and thus recovery may be a strong function of the ability of trees to acquire this transient pulse of resource availability. This study provides a testable framework by which the role of nutrients in drought-induced mortality and recovery may be understood.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Funding was provided by the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE)–Tropics project of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, within the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science; the Swiss National Foundation; and the Swiss Fellowship program at WSL.
Gessler A., M. Schaub, and N.G. McDowell. “The role of nutrients in drought-induced mortality and recovery.” New Phytologist 214(2), 513–520 (2017). [DOI:10.1111/nph.14340]