Articles | Volume 20, issue 22
Research article
17 Nov 2023
Research article |  | 17 Nov 2023

Coordination of rooting, xylem, and stomatal strategies explains the response of conifer forest stands to multi-year drought in the southern Sierra Nevada of California

Junyan Ding, Polly Buotte, Roger Bales, Bradley Christoffersen, Rosie A. Fisher, Michael Goulden, Ryan Knox, Lara Kueppers, Jacquelyn Shuman, Chonggang Xu, and Charles D. Koven

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Cited articles

Abatzoglou, J. T. and Brown, T. J.: A comparison of statistical downscaling methods suited for wildfire applications, Int. J. Climatol., 32, 772–780, 2012. 
Agee, E., He, L., Bisht, G., Couvreur, V., Shahbaz, P., Meunier, F., Gough, C. M., Matheny, A. M., Bohrer, G., and Ivanov, V.: Root lateral interactions drive water uptake patterns under water limitation, Adv. Water Resour., 151, 103896,, 2021. 
Anderegg, L. D. L. and Hillerislambers, J.: Drought stress limits the geographic ranges of two tree species via different physiological mechanisms, Glob. Chang. Biol., 22, 1029–1045,, 2016. 
Anderegg, W. R., Plavcová, L., Anderegg, L. D., Hacke, U. G., Berry, J. A., and Field, C. B.: Drought's legacy: multiyear hydraulic deterioration underlies widespread aspen forest die-off and portends increased future risk, Glob. Change Biol., 19, 1188–1196, 2013. 
Baker, K. V., Tai, X., Miller, M. L., and Johnson, D. M.: Six co-occurring conifer species in northern Idaho exhibit a continuum of hydraulic strategies during an extreme drought year, AoB PLANTS, 11, 1–3,, 2019. 
Short summary
We used a vegetation model to investigate how the different combinations of plant rooting depths and the sensitivity of leaves and stems to drying lead to differential responses of a pine forest to drought conditions in California, USA. We found that rooting depths are the strongest control in that ecosystem. Deep roots allow trees to fully utilize the soil water during a normal year but result in prolonged depletion of soil moisture during a severe drought and hence a high tree mortality risk.
Final-revised paper