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Leaf traits predict water-use efficiency in U.S. Pacific Northwest grasslands under rain exclusion treatment

Citation

Dawson, Hilary Rose et al. (2022), Leaf traits predict water-use efficiency in U.S. Pacific Northwest grasslands under rain exclusion treatment, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vmcvdncr7

Abstract

Does drought stress in temperate Pacific Northwest, USA, grasslands alters the relationship between plant structure and function? Here we report data from an experiment focusing on growth form and species traits that affect the critical functions of water- and nutrient-use efficiency in prairie and pasture plant communities. A total of 139 individuals of 12 species (11 genera and four families) were sampled in replicated plots maintained for three years across a 520 km latitudinal gradient in the Pacific Northwest. Rain exclusion did not alter the relationship between foliar traits and stoichiometry. However, rain exclusion reduced intrinsic water-use efficiency in grasses. This effect was primarily species-specific, although leaf morphology, life history strategy, and phylogenetic distance predicted water-use efficiency for all twelve species when analyzed together. Our findings are consistent with expected trait-driven tradeoffs between productivity and efficiency, and provide insight into resource-use strategies that are important for the sustainable use and conservation of temperate grasslands.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1340847

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1758947

National Science Foundation, Award: OIA-1939511