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    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: November 5, 2015

Drought survival of tropical tree seedlings enhanced by non-structural carbohydrate levels

Nature Climate Change (2014)

O’Brien M J, Leuzinger S, Philipson C D, Tay J, Hector A


Vol 4, pp 710–714


Plants in most biomes are thought to be living at their hydraulic limits, and alterations to precipitation patterns consistent with climate change trends are causing die-back in forests across the globe. However, within- and among-species variation in plant traits that promote persistence and adaptation under these new rainfall regimes may reduce mortality in these changing climates. Storage of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) is posited as an important trait for resistance and resilience of forests to climate-change-induced drought, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here we demonstrate a positive relationship between NSCs and drought survival by manipulating NSC concentrations within seedlings of ten tropical tree species. Seedlings experimentally enriched in NSCs showed higher stem water potentials and sustained NSCs during drought. NSC use for maintenance of osmoregulation and hydraulic function therefore seems to underlie improved drought resistance. That drought mortality is delayed by higher NSC concentrations has implications for predicting the impacts of climate change on forest die-back and may help focus restoration efforts on species that increase the resistance and resilience of forests to climate change.

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