Conifer desiccation in the 2021 NW heatwave confirms the role of hydraulic damage

Tree Physiol. 2022 Apr 7;42(4):722-726. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpac007.


The unprecedented heatwave which hit the Pacific northwest of North America in late June-early July 2021 impacted ecosystems and communities, yet evidence for and analysis of this impact are still missing. Here we bring a unique dataset quantifying the impact on conifer trees, which are keystone species of many northwest ecosystems. Moreover, we take advantage of this exceptional event as a broad, extreme, 'field experiment' to test a fundamental theory in plant physiology and prepare our forests for a harsher future. Overall, the data collected confirm the role of hydraulic vulnerability in drought-induced injury to trees.

Keywords: conifers; desiccation; drought; xylem embolism; xylem vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Desiccation
  • Droughts
  • Ecosystem
  • Plant Leaves
  • Tracheophyta*
  • Trees
  • Water / physiology
  • Xylem / physiology


  • Water