Forest Tree Drought Physiology Research Innovation Group

Drought is a recurrent stress to forests, causing periodic forest mortality with enormous economic and environmental costs. The current understanding of forest tree drought physiology does not reflect the ecological, economic and societal importance of this topic. How trees respond to drought involves complex physiological changes that play a primary role in influencing growth and survival. Physiological symptoms during drought response have been described, including hydraulic failure and carbon starvation through reduced photosynthesis. Additionally, there is variation across and within species to drought response and survival, indicating genetic variation underlying these traits. However, our current view of drought response in trees is largely fragmented among different research disciplines, and does not include complete descriptions of the genetic or cellular processes that underlie observed symptoms of drought. A new comprehensive understanding of drought response would integrate knowledge of the causative genetic, cellular and physiological mechanisms underlying drought symptoms and survival. Such insights provide the foundation for new approaches for management and conservation efforts.

Organising committee: Andrew Groover, US Forest Service and UC Davis, and Michele (Missy) Holbrook, Harvard University