Drought Stress in Four Subalpine Species: Gas Exchange Response and Survivorship
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An assessment of adaptability of saplings of four evergreen species (Picea abies Karst., Pinus mugo Turra, Pinus peuce Grisb. and Pinus heldreichii H. Christ.), native for Bulgarian treeline zone, was made on the basis of leaf gas exchange and survivability in artificially induced drought stress. The established low sensitivity of gas exchange to summer drought and the highest mortality of P. abies may be regarded as an evidence for a narrow zone of tolerance. P. peuce and P. heldreichii have low survivorship under drought conditions, regardless of the variable effect of soil moisture on the gas exchange parameters. The better survivability and significant reduction of gas exchange in response to soil water deficit of P. mugo probably will give him an advantage in future adaptation to climate change and in competition with other subalpine species. We conclude that the expected trends in climate change will most likely lead to a further narrowing of the ecological and physiological comfortable zone for two investigated endemic species.
Keywordsdrought saplings survivorship photosynthesis transpiration
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