Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Agricultural, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences
Dr. Bradley Christoffersen
Dr. Christopher Gabler
Dr. Alejandro Fierro Cabo
Increasingly frequent and severe droughts in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge have been observed to cause large variation in species-specific mortality patterns in young seedlings, spanning 6 – 43 % mortality within the first year. To understand the underlying mechanisms behind this, we subjected seedlings of five woody semi-arid species (Celtis pallida, Forestiera angustifolia, Sideroxylon celastrinum, Phaulothalmnus spinescens, and Zanthoxylum fagara) to a point-of-no-return drought experiment in order to (1) identify potential metrics capable of predicting species wilting and mortality responses, and (2) to understand the underlying mechanisms that correspond to species drought performance. Results suggest that belowground (not aboveground) metrics of water status were the most consistent predictors of intraspecific wilting and mortality responses. Additionally, species exhibited responses that incorporated both tolerance and avoidance strategies, in tandem with initial soil water being the most important factor in determining drought performance.
Contreras, Zarek, "Quantifying and Predicting Drought Performance in Woody Semi-Arid Seedlings in South Texas: Implications for Enhancing Drought Resilience in Restoration" (2022). Theses and Dissertations - UTRGV. 1028.