Tamarix Carbon Allocation

Tamarix carbon allocation and response to simulated foliage herbivory.

A fundamental question we seek to answer is how does herbivory kill plants such as Tamarix? Evidence from many studies suggests that herbivory results in carbon deficits that cascade into carbon starvation and plant mortality. In order to specifically address the interaction between plant carbon balance and herbivory, we have constructed a series of test beds (i.e. mesocosms) at the Desert Research Institute’s (DRI), Scaling Environmental Processes in Heterogeneous Arid Soils (SEPHAS) Facility in Boulder City, NV.

In the fall of 2013, one and two year old Tamarix seedlings with intact root systems were carefully excavated from a nearby riparian area. In 2016, we implemented a series of simulated defoliation treatments on all of the trees in the assigned “defoliation” mesocosms where virtually all of the foliage was removed. Response variables include measurements of plant water use (from stem sap flux), modeled carbon uptake, labile carbon storage and biomass allocation. Stay tuned for future results from this experiment.

For questions, please contact Susan Bush (email) or Kevin Hultine (email).

Funding support provided by the US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Award number 2015-67013-23138), The Desert Botanical Garden, and the Desert Research Institute.