How much drought can a forest take?

Why do some trees die in a drought and others don’t?
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, and colleagues examined those questions in a study published in the journal Ecology Letters.
Using climate data and aerial tree mortality surveys conducted by the U.S. Forest Service during four years (2012-2015) of extreme drought in California, they found that when a drought hits the region, trees growing in areas that are already dry are most susceptible.
The research also showed that the effects of drought on forests can take years to surface, suggesting that such effects may linger even after the drought has ended.
Southern Sierra Nevada trees are most vulnerable The study said that trees in the driest and densest forests are the most at risk of dying in an extreme drought.
‘How much drought a tree can take’ "Our analysis found out how much drought a tree can take," said UC Davis Ph.D. student Derek Young, who co-led the study with Jens Stevens, a UC Davis postdoctoral researcher during the study who is currently at UC Berkeley, and Mason Earles, a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University.
The U.S. Forest Service aerial tree mortality surveys in 2015 estimated 29 million trees in California had died after four years of extreme drought.
Long-term climate and competition explain forest mortality patterns under extreme drought.
ScienceDaily, 19 January 2017.
Retrieved June 16, 2017 from University of California – Davis.

Learn More