An allometry-based model of the survival strategies of hydraulic failure and carbon starvation

TitleAn allometry-based model of the survival strategies of hydraulic failure and carbon starvation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsGentine, P, Guérin, M, Uríarte, M, McDowell, NG, Pockman, WT
Date Published07/2015
Accession NumberLUQ.1241
Keywordsallometry, carbon starvation, cavitation, embolism, isohydric anoisohydric, physical model, tree diameter

A simplified soil–plant–atmosphere–continuum model of carbon starvation and hydraulic failure is developed and tested against observations from a drought-manipulation experiment in a woodland dominated by piñon pine (Pinus edulis) and juniper (Juniperus monosperma) in New Mexico. The number of model parameters is reduced using allometric relationships. The model can represent more isohydric (piñon) and more anisohydric (juniper) responses. Analysis of the parameter space suggests four main controls on hydraulic failure and carbon starvation: xylem vulnerability curve, root:shoot area ratio, rooting depth and water use efficiency. For piñon, an intermediate optimal (1.5–2 m2 m−2) tree leaf area index reduces the risk of hydraulic failure. For both piñons and junipers, hydraulic failure was relatively insensitive to root:shoot ratio across a range of tree LAI. Higher root:shoot ratios however strongly decreased the time to carbon starvation. The hydraulic safety margin of piñons is strongly diminished by large diurnal variations in xylem/leaf water potential. Diurnal drops of water potential are mitigated by high maximum hydraulic conductivity, high root:shoot ratio and stomatal regulation (more isohydric). The safety margin of junipers is not very sensitive to diurnal drops in water potential so that there is little benefit in stomatal regulation (more anisohydric). Narrower tracheid diameter and a narrower distribution of tracheid diameters reduce the risk of hydraulic failure and carbon starvation by reducing diurnal xylem water potential drop. Simulated tree diameter-dependent mortality varies between these two species, with piñon mortality decreasing with increasing tree size, whereas juniper mortality increases with tree size. Juvenile piñons might thus be overimpacted by water stress. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.