|Jung, EY; Gaviria, J; Sun, S; Engelbrecht, BMJ: Comparative drought resistance of temperate grassland species: testing performance trade‐offs and the relation to distribution, Oecologia (2020), online: 2020-02-29, doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-020-04625-9|
|Key words: Drought tolerance, Rainfall niche, Distribution patterns, Dryness, Climate change|
To improve projections of consequences of increasing intensity and frequency of drought events for grasslands, we need a thorough understanding of species performance responses to drought, of performance trade-offs and how drought resistance is related to species distributions. However, comparative and quantitative assessments of whole-plant drought resistance that allow to rigorously address these aspects are lacking for temperate grassland species. We conducted a common garden experiment with 40 common temperate grassland species to compare species survival and growth under intense drought and well-irrigated conditions. Overall, survival and growth were significantly reduced under drought, with the effect varying across species. Species ranking of drought damage and survival remained consistent with progressing drought. No perfor- mance trade-offs emerged between optimal growth and drought resistance of survival (‘growth–stress tolerance’ trade-off hypothesis), or between growth under well-watered and dry conditions (‘growth rates’ trade-off hypothesis). Species local- and large-scale association with moisture (Ellenberg F value and rainfall niche) was not related to their drought resistance. Overall, our results imply that trade-offs and differences of species fundamental drought resistance are not the main drivers of hydrological niche differentiation, species coexistence and their distribution across moisture gradients. The comparative experimental assessment of species whole-plant drought responses we present provides a basis to increase our understanding of current grassland responses to variation of moisture regimes and for projecting consequences of future changes.