School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences - Research Publications

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    Tree water-use strategies to improve stormwater retention performance of biofiltration systems
    Szota, C ; McCarthy, MJ ; Sanders, GJ ; Farrell, C ; Fletcher, TD ; Arndt, SK ; Livesley, SJ (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2018-11-01)
    Biofiltration systems are highly valued in urban landscapes as they remove pollutants from stormwater runoff whilst contributing to a reduction in runoff volumes. Integrating trees in biofilters may improve their runoff retention performance, as trees have greater transpiration than commonly used sedge or herb species. High transpiration rates will rapidly deplete retained water, creating storage capacity prior to the next runoff event. However, a tree with high transpiration rates in a biofilter system will likely be frequently exposed to drought stress. Selecting appropriate tree species therefore requires an understanding of how different trees use water and how they respond to substrate drying. We selected 20 tree species and quantified evapotranspiration (ET) and drought stress (leaf water potential; Ψ) in relation to substrate water content. To compare species, we developed metrics which describe: (i) maximum rates of ET under well-watered conditions, (ii) the sensitivity of ET and (iii) the response of Ψ to declining substrate water content. Using these three metrics, we classified species into three groups: risky, balanced or conservative. Risky and balanced species showed high maximum ET, whereas conservative species always had low ET. As substrates dried, the balanced species down-regulated ET to delay the onset of drought stress; whereas risky species did not. Therefore, balanced species with high ET are more likely to improve the retention performance of biofiltration systems without introducing significant drought risk. This classification of tree water use strategies can be easily integrated into water balance models and improve tree species selection for biofiltration systems.
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    Does the turgor loss point characterize drought response in dryland plants?
    Farrell, C ; Szota, C ; Arndt, SK (WILEY, 2017-08-01)
    The water potential at turgor loss point (Ψtlp ) has been suggested as a key functional trait for determining plant drought tolerance, because of its close relationship with stomatal closure. Ψtlp may indicate drought tolerance as plants, which maintain gas exchange at lower midday water potentials as soil water availability declines also have lower Ψtlp . We evaluated 17 species from seasonally dry habitats, representing a range of life-forms, under well-watered and drought conditions, to determine how Ψtlp relates to stomatal sensitivity (pre-dawn water potential at stomatal closure: Ψgs0 ) and drought strategy (degree of isohydry or anisohydry; ΔΨMD between well-watered conditions and stomatal closure). Although Ψgs0 was related to Ψtlp , Ψgs0 was better related to drought strategy (ΔΨMD ). Drought avoiders (isohydric) closed stomata at water potentials higher than their Ψtlp ; whereas, drought tolerant (anisohydric) species maintained stomatal conductance at lower water potentials than their Ψtlp and were more dehydration tolerant. There was no significant relationship between Ψtlp and ΔΨMD . While Ψtlp has been related to biome water availability, we found that Ψtlp did not relate strongly to stomatal closure or drought strategy, for either drought avoiders or tolerators. We therefore suggest caution in using Ψtlp to predict vulnerability to drought.
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    Relationships between plant drought response, traits, and climate of origin for green roof plant selection
    Du, P ; Arndt, SK ; Farrell, C (WILEY, 2018-10-01)
    The ideal species for green or vegetated roofs should have high water use after rainfall to maximize stormwater retention but also survive periods with low water availability in dry substrates. Shrubs have great potential for green roofs because they have higher rates of water use, and many species are also drought tolerant. However, not all shrub species will be suitable and there may be a trade-off between water use and drought tolerance. We conducted a glasshouse experiment to determine the possible trade-offs between shrub water use for stormwater management and their response to drought conditions. We selected 20 shrubs from a wide range of climates of origin, represented by heat moisture index (HMI) and mean annual precipitation (MAP). Under well-watered (WW) and water-deficit (WD) conditions, we assessed morphological responses to water availability; evapotranspiration rate (ET) and midday water potential (ΨMD ) were used to evaluate species water use and drought response. In response to WD, all 20 shrubs adjusted their morphology and physiology. However, there were no species that simultaneously achieved high rates of water use (high ET) under WW and high drought tolerance (low ΨMD ) under WD conditions. Although some species which had high water use under WW conditions could avoid drought stress (high ΨMD ). Water use was strongly related to plant biomass, total leaf area, and leaf traits (specific leaf area [SLA] and leaf area ratio [LAR]). Conversely, drought response (ΨMD ) was not related to morphological traits. Species' climate of origin was not related to drought response or water use. Drought-avoiding shrubs (high ΨMD ) could optimize rainfall reduction on green roofs. Water use was related to biomass, leaf area, and leaf traits; thus, these traits could be used to assist the selection of shrubs for stormwater mitigation on green roofs. The natural distribution of species was not related to their water use or drought response, which suggests that shrubs from less arid climates may be suitable for use on green roofs. Selecting species based on traits and not climate of origin could both improve green roof performance and biodiversity outcomes by expanding the current plant palette.
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    High water users can be drought tolerant: using physiological traits for green roof plant selection
    Farrell, C ; Szota, C ; Williams, NSG ; Arndt, SK (SPRINGER, 2013-11-01)
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    Urban Plantings: 'Living Laboratories' for Climate Change Response
    Farrell, C ; Szota, C ; Arndt, SK (ELSEVIER SCIENCE LONDON, 2015-10-01)
    Urban plantings are not only valuable resources for understanding 'urban plant physiology' but are 'living laboratories' for understanding plant response to climate change. Therefore, we encourage researchers who currently work in natural ecosystems to consider how urban plantings could enhance their research into plant physiological responses to a changing climate.