Who can handle the future? Tree growth evaluation during drought and water stress

How will trees respond to the future challenges? I have studied how the growth of three Prunus species are affected by drought- and water stress. The study is a part of an ongoing research experiment at SLU Alnarp where trees are exposed to drought- and water stress with the purpose of evaluating tree species tolerance for the future climate. My part of the study comprises 72 plants consisting of Prunus avium, Prunus mahaleb and Prunus padus. They were divided into three groups; two treatment groups where the plants were either dehydrated or submerged in water and one control that was watered regularly. The plants were harvested after 30 days and then dried and weighed. I have used the weight data to analyze how the plants growth, both above and below ground was affected by the stress treatments. The results in the study show that P. avium has significantly less growth during the stressperiod, especially during water stress. P. mahaleb has almost identical growth during drought as during continuous irrigation. P. padus has remarkably more growth during drought stress than during continuous irrigation. It is important to consider that several survival mechanisms in plants occur at the expense of growth, which means that the lack of growth in the experiment does not necessarily mean that the species cannot handle the stress, but that the growth is inhibited during the stressperiod. More studies are needed, and already in progress at SLU.

About me

Elin Rowicki Landscape Engineer

My heart belongs to plants. This final year of my bachelor I have immersed myself in courses that deepen my understanding of them, such as Extended plant- and site awareness, Treecare and Plant technology. Plants are essential for our survival and wellbeing, and my goal is to work with sustainable management and development of our green areas, so that we can meet the future climate challenges in the best possible way, with a little help from our green friends.