AbstractThe species-poor woodlands and forests in arid regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change induced plant die-off. Searching for species suitable to replant in these areas is an effective way to prevent further expansion of land desertification. Good knowledge of drought resistance of species is critical for current replanting efforts, however, the related plant survival mechanisms in the process of restoration remain limited. Here, we tested the dominant drivers of plant survival in relation to climate factors, growth characteristics and functional traits including hydraulics and gas exchange across 35 multiple shrub and tree woody species in a common garden at the Tengger Desert, northwest China. We found the desert plants had a wide range of hydraulic thresholds among these desert species, with relative high hydraulic safety, and low xylem hydraulic conductivity. Pant survival was largely determined by hydraulic safety and growth status, but was not affected by the climate of the species’ site of origin. Shrubs and trees diverged in hydraulic and growth characteristics, while there was no difference between native and introduced species. Our results highlight the critical roles of hydraulic safety and growth on determining the survival and drought adaptation during desert vegetation development, which provide a new insight into ecological restoration in arid regions under changing climate conditions.
Published: August 31, 2023