Severe droughts are expected to increase with climate change and to limit grassland perennity.
Zwicke et al. investigate the plant strategies involved in drought survival and recovery of six temperate herbaceous species in semi-controlled conditions and show that cell membrane stability, which ensures dehydration tolerance of roots and meristems, is positively and negatively correlated to fructan and sucrose contents, respectively. Species that survive and recover best combine high resource acquisition in spring and both high dehydration avoidance and tolerance strategies. The results suggest that most of the native forage species studied are able to survive and recover from extreme drought, but with various time lags, which emphasizes the need to assess recovery after drought over a relatively long time scale.
This article appears in the special issue Plants and Climate Change.