Postgraduate Profiles

Rodrigo Pires

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Thesis: Regional drought and heat tree mortality patterns and water relations of three dominant co-occurring canopy trees in a bushland remnant

Recently, predictions of increase in frequency and intensity of extreme environmental conditions, especially related with drought and heat-induced stress have been altering the vegetation composition and structure of forests/woodlands. These extreme events are closely linked to woody plant survival, as trees cope with such events over its long lifespans. In the past decades, several studies reported widespread tree canopy damage and sudden tree mortality events in all continents. Mediterranean environments are of great importance in this scenario since climate models predictions estimate further reductions on rainfall and increase in heat waves exacerbating the effects of drought and heat stress. In this thesis, I will investigate the effects of drought and heat in the hydraulic system of three keystone tree species of south-western Australia

Why my research is important

Climate change is already a reality throughout the continents. The majority of the natural ecosystems (forest, woodlands, and bushlands) are being damage by its different effects. Drought and heat are the main drivers of stress in those environments leading to damage and potentially dead of vegetation. Understand how trees respond to these stresses and which physiological mechanisms are involved in their response is of fundamental importance. To understand the role of climate change and the physiological process related to tree death/survival I will investigate the hydraulic system of three keystone tree species that are known to exhibit distinct responses to drought and heat stress and exist in the same environment.


Feb 2015

Feb 2018