Widespread tree mortality following droughts has emerged as an environmentally and economically devastating ‘ecological surprise’. It is well established that tree physiology is important in understanding drought-driven mortality; however, the accuracy of predictions based on physiology alone has been limited. We propose that complicating factors at two levels stymie predictions of drought-driven mortality: (i) organismal-level physiological and site factors that obscure understanding of drought exposure and vulnerability and (ii) community-level ecological interactions, particularly with biotic agents whose effects on tree mortality may reverse expectations based on stress physiology. We conclude with a path forward that emphasizes the need for an integrative approach to stress physiology and biotic agent dynamics when assessing forest risk to drought-driven morality in a changing climate.
|Title||Why is tree drought mortality so hard to predict?|
|Authors||Anna T Trugman, Leander D.L. Anderegg, William RL Anderegg, Adrian Das, Nathan L. Stephenson|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Trends in Ecology and Evolution|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Ecological Research Center|