A multiple-trait analysis of ecohydrological acclimatisation in a dryland phreatophytic shrub

Torres-García, M. Trinidad, Salinas-Bonillo, María J., Cleverly, Jamie R., Gisbert, Juan, Pacheco-Romero, Manuel, and Cabello, Javier (2021) A multiple-trait analysis of ecohydrological acclimatisation in a dryland phreatophytic shrub. Oecologia, 196. pp. 1179-1193.

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Water is the main limiting factor for groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) in drylands. Predicted climate change (precipitation reductions and temperature increases) and anthropogenic activities such as groundwater drawdown jeopardise the functioning of these ecosystems, presenting new challenges for their management. We developed a trait-based analysis to examine the spatiotemporal variability in the ecophysiology of Ziziphus lotus, a long-lived phreatophyte that dominates one of the few terrestrial GDEs of semiarid regions in Europe. We assessed morpho-functional traits and stem water potential along a naturally occurring gradient of depth-to-groundwater (DTGW, 2–25 m) in a coastal aquifer, and throughout the species-growing season. Increasing DTGW and salinity negatively affected photosynthetic and transpiration rates, increasing plant water stress (lower predawn and midday water potential), and positively affected Huber value (sapwood cross-sectional area per leaf area), reducing leaf area and likely, plant hydraulic demand. However, the species showed greater salt-tolerance at shallow depths. Despite groundwater characteristics, higher atmospheric evaporative demand in the study area, which occurred in summer, fostered higher transpiration rates and water stress, and promoted carbon assimilation and water loss more intensively at shallow water tables. This multiple-trait analysis allowed us to identify plant ecophysiological thresholds related to the increase in salinity, but mostly in DTGW (13 m), and in the evaporative demand during the growing season. These findings highlight the existence of tipping points in the functioning of a long-lived phreatophyte in drylands and can contribute to the sustainable management of GDEs in southern Europe, paving the way for further studies on phreatophytic species.

Item ID: 72685
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: Depth-to-groundwater gradient, Ecophysiological threshold, Groundwater salinity, Plant functional traits, Rhamnaceae, Ziziphus lotus
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 05:29
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310303 Ecological physiology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310308 Terrestrial ecology @ 20%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3707 Hydrology > 370702 Ecohydrology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1803 Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management > 180305 Ground water quantification, allocation and impact of depletion @ 100%
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