Precipitation thresholds and drought-induced tree die-off

Insights from patterns of Pinus edulis mortality along an environmental stress gradient

Michael J. Clifford, Patrick D. Royer, Neil S Cobb, David D. Breshears, Paulette L. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Summary: Recent regional tree die-off events appear to have been triggered by a combination of drought and heat - referred to as 'global-change-type drought'. To complement experiments focused on resolving mechanisms of drought-induced tree mortality, an evaluation of how patterns of tree die-off relate to highly spatially variable precipitation is needed. Here, we explore precipitation relationships with a die-off event of pinyon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.) in southwestern North America during the 2002-2003 global-change-type drought. Pinyon die-off and its relationship with precipitation was quantified spatially along a precipitation gradient in north-central New Mexico with standard field plot measurements of die-off combined with canopy cover derived from normalized burn ratio (NBR) from Landsat imagery. Pinyon die-off patterns revealed threshold responses to precipitation (cumulative 2002-2003) and vapor pressure deficit (VPD), with little to no mortality (< 10%) above 600 mm and below warm season VPD of c. 1.7 kPa. [Correction added after online publication 17 June 2013; in the preceding sentence, the word 'below' has been inserted.] Our results refine how precipitation patterns within a region influence pinyon die-off, revealing a precipitation and VPD threshold for tree mortality and its uncertainty band where other factors probably come into play - a response type that influences stand demography and landscape heterogeneity and is of general interest, yet has not been documented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-421
Number of pages9
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume200
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Fingerprint

Pinus edulis
die-off
Pinus
Droughts
Vapor Pressure
drought
Mortality
vapor pressure
tree mortality
global change
Imagery (Psychotherapy)
North America
Uncertainty
Publications
Hot Temperature
Demography
warm season
Landsat
demography
complement

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Die-off
  • Drought
  • Mortality
  • Pinus edulis
  • Pinyon pine
  • Pinyon-juniper woodlands
  • Threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Physiology

Cite this

Precipitation thresholds and drought-induced tree die-off : Insights from patterns of Pinus edulis mortality along an environmental stress gradient. / Clifford, Michael J.; Royer, Patrick D.; Cobb, Neil S; Breshears, David D.; Ford, Paulette L.

In: New Phytologist, Vol. 200, No. 2, 10.2013, p. 413-421.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Clifford, Michael J. ; Royer, Patrick D. ; Cobb, Neil S ; Breshears, David D. ; Ford, Paulette L. / Precipitation thresholds and drought-induced tree die-off : Insights from patterns of Pinus edulis mortality along an environmental stress gradient. In: New Phytologist. 2013 ; Vol. 200, No. 2. pp. 413-421.
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