Trees on the edge

Serious drought is a threat to most trees, worldwide survey finds

By Stephen Ornes, 13:02 PM December 14, 2012


A dead beech tree in Scotland. The majority of the world’s trees, including this type, would be pushed close to the point of death in a serious drought, a new study reports. Credit: Dr. Hervé Cochard (INRA, Clermont-Ferrand, France)



Trees often grow to appear sturdy and strong, which might make it hard to believe that they’re easily harmed on the inside. But that is the case, according to a worldwide survey of more than 200 types of trees, published in November. Researchers studied the inner plumbing of the trees and found that most don’t have a built-in safety net that would allow them to survive a serious drought.


“I think this is a really big deal,” ecologist David Breshears told Science News. Breshears, of the Uni...

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