Plants frequently exhibit tradeoffs between reproduction and growth when resources are limited, and often change these allocation patterns in response to stress. Shorter-lived plants such as annuals tend to allocate relatively more resources toward reproduction when stressed, while longer-lived plants tend to invest more heavily in survival and stress defense. However, severe stress may affect the fitness implications of allocating relatively more resources to reproduction versus stress defense. Increased drought intensity and duration have led to widespread mortality events in coniferous forests. In this review, we ask how potential tradeoffs between reproduction and survival influence the likelihood of drought-induced mortality and species persistence. We propose that trees may exhibit what we call ‘fight or flight’ behaviors under stress. ‘Fight’ behaviors involve greater resource allocation toward survival (e.g., growth, drought-resistant xylem and pest defense). ‘Flight’ consists of higher relative allocation of resources to reproduction, potentially increasing both offspring production and mortality risk for the adult. We hypothesize that flight behaviors increase as drought stress escalates the likelihood of mortality in a given location.
LAUDER, J.D. E. V. MORAN, S. J. HART (2019): Fight or Flight? Tradeoffs Between Drought Defense and Reproduction in Conifers. Tree Physiology. DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpz031
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.