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UC Berkeley News: Does limited underground water storage make plants less susceptible to drought?

UC Berkeley graduate student Jesse Hahm levels a rain gauge. Photo: Wendy Baxter

25 Jun 2019
News Source: UC Berkeley News

Eel River CZO research findings from Hahm et al. 2019 are featured on the UC Berkeley News website.

Image: UC Berkeley graduate student Jesse Hahm levels a rain gauge. Photo: Wendy Baxter [Click image to enlarge]

From UC Berkeley News (author: Robert Sanders)

You might expect that plants hoping to thrive in California’s boom-or-bust rain cycle would choose to set down roots in a place that can store lots of water underground to last through drought years.

But some of the most successful plant communities in the state — and probably in Mediterranean climates worldwide — that are characterized by wet winters and dry summers  have taken a different approach. They’ve learned to thrive in areas with a below-ground water storage capacity barely large enough to hold the water that falls even in lean years.

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Alex Bryk - Graduate Student, UC Berkeley



Low Subsurface Water Storage Capacity Relative to Annual Rainfall Decouples Mediterranean Plant Productivity and Water Use From Rainfall Variability. Hahm, W.J., Dralle, D.N., Rempe, D.M., Bryk, A.B., Thompson, S.E., Dawson, T.E., and Dietrich, W.E. (2019): Geophysical Research Letters

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