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.
- Digital Object Identifier: 10.1016/j.tree.2021.02.001
- Source: USGS Publications Warehouse (indexId: 70219248)