Understanding the Effects of Ecological Drought on Water Use Efficiency of native shrubs in the Santa Monica Mountains

Alejandra Pesqueira, University of California, Los Angeles
Alexandria Pivovaroff , PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
Wu Sun , PhD in Progress, University of California, Los Angeles
Ulli Seibt , PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

Abstract

California’s long history with drought can be further perturbed with the increase of ecological drought due to climate change. We examined how water use efficiency (WUE), or the ratio of carbon assimilation to transpiration, varies with changes in temperature. We use flow-through chambers at Stunt Ranch, a University of California Natural Reserve System (UCNRS) site located in the Southern California Santa Monica Mountains. We focused on four woody, native species with contrasting adaptations to seasonal drought, including Heteromeles arbutifolia, Malosma laurina, and Quercus agrifolia which are evergreen chaparral shrubs/trees, and Salvia leucophylla which is a drought-deciduous coastal sage scrub shrub.

For the four species, we continuously monitored fluxes of carbon and water to calculate WUE. WUE was higher in the relatively cool, wet spring months for all species, but declined with the onset of the seasonal drought and warmer summer temperatures. We observed the highest WUE values in the temperature range from 10°C to 25°C. During the summer months, all species have the highest WUE during the morning, taking advantage of the lower evaporative demand before the temperature increases during midday and afternoon. The species with the highest WUE, M. laurina, also typically has the deepest roots at the site. Ongoing monitoring will allow us to investigate how WUE will continue to respond to water stress and high temperatures combined with intensifying water stress during the hot, dry summer months.

 
Nov 12th, 4:00 PM Nov 12th, 5:00 PM

Understanding the Effects of Ecological Drought on Water Use Efficiency of native shrubs in the Santa Monica Mountains

HUB 302-#24

California’s long history with drought can be further perturbed with the increase of ecological drought due to climate change. We examined how water use efficiency (WUE), or the ratio of carbon assimilation to transpiration, varies with changes in temperature. We use flow-through chambers at Stunt Ranch, a University of California Natural Reserve System (UCNRS) site located in the Southern California Santa Monica Mountains. We focused on four woody, native species with contrasting adaptations to seasonal drought, including Heteromeles arbutifolia, Malosma laurina, and Quercus agrifolia which are evergreen chaparral shrubs/trees, and Salvia leucophylla which is a drought-deciduous coastal sage scrub shrub.

For the four species, we continuously monitored fluxes of carbon and water to calculate WUE. WUE was higher in the relatively cool, wet spring months for all species, but declined with the onset of the seasonal drought and warmer summer temperatures. We observed the highest WUE values in the temperature range from 10°C to 25°C. During the summer months, all species have the highest WUE during the morning, taking advantage of the lower evaporative demand before the temperature increases during midday and afternoon. The species with the highest WUE, M. laurina, also typically has the deepest roots at the site. Ongoing monitoring will allow us to investigate how WUE will continue to respond to water stress and high temperatures combined with intensifying water stress during the hot, dry summer months.