Nothofagus antarctica is the most representative species of the native mixed forest occupying ecotone areas between forests and steppe in NW Patagonia, South-America. In this type of environment, vulnerability to climate change is particularly enhanced. Predictions of future climatic conditions for this region indicate an increment of atmospheric temperature and also, a high variability of rain events, threatening forest persistence and productivity. In this framework, management strategies are crucial to guarantee sustainability of native vegetation systems. The objective of this study was to study the effect of tree density on the ecophysiological limitations of water use of N. antarctica, as a proxy to its productivity, during a drought period. Compared with the unthinned forest, the thinned forest showed higher soil water availability, higher sapflow density (Js) and canopy conductance (Gc) values, similar aerodynamic conductance (Ga) and a low degree of coupling to vapor pressure deficit. Ecophysiological results demonstrated a high limitation over gas exchange of individual N. antarctica trees imposed by the resistance in the hydraulic soil-to-leaf pathway in the unthinned-natural condition. Surprisingly, our results suggest structural limitations in the unthinned stand which reduce the ability of N. antarctica trees to take advantage of wet seasons, at least in the short term. Thinning could decrease the susceptibility of N. antarctica-based systems to drought stress, by increasing resource availability to the remaining trees, thus contributing to enhance the persistence of this species under climate change conditions.
thinning treatment consisted of the extraction of all woody species except N. antarctica trees. During winter 2004, re-sprouted trees and shrubs were cut. At the beginning of the present study, this mono-specific savanna- like forest of N. antarctica had a density of 1,027 tree- s ha-1.
|Climate change impacts
|Effect of Nbs on CCI
|Loss of timber production
|ecophysiological limitations of water use of N. antarctica, as a proxy to its productivity: sapflow density (Js) and canopy conductance (Gc) values, aerodynamic conductance (Ga), degree of coupling to vapor pressure deficit
|Reduced water availability
|Soil water availability/content (% dry weight) during summer
El Foyel River Valley (41°390 54.300 S; 71°330 11.400 W, 632 m.o.s.l.), N.W. carried out measurements within two sites: Montero (unthinned) and Soriani (thinned)