Published: 13 February 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/psckh8s8pb.1
Adalgisa Maria Chaib Ferreira


The seedling stage represents a bottleneck in plants' life cycle, particularly in savanna environments, where the rainy season is the major window of opportunity for seedling development and recruitment of new individuals. However, an increase in the duration and frequency of dry spells (days without rain during the rainy season) is expected due to climate change, which may affect species recruitment and establishment. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of simulated dry spells on the growth performance and biomass of Qualea grandiflora and Tabebuia aurea seedlings. Seedlings (60 days-old) were exposed to three irrigation treatments (daily irrigation, irrigation every 8 days, and irrigation every 15 days) for 130 days. We found no mortality in any of the irrigation treatments for both species. Although the growth parameters of Q. grandiflora were not significantly affected by the dry spells, the species invested more in shoot growth than in root growth. In contrast, there was a significant decrease in the root dry mass, root:shoot ratio, root biomass fraction, and relative growth rate of T. aurea seedlings exposed to dry spells of 15 days; but there was a significant increase in the specific taproot length and shoot biomass fraction. Overall, the plants showed species-specific responses to the dry spell treatments, and dry spells of up to 15 days did not cause seedling mortality. Further, T. aurea seedlings invested more resources in taproot growth in response to dry spells. The development of deep-reaching taproots could be an effective physiological adaptation strategy for the survival and establishment of young plants and the resilience of native tree populations under future adverse climate scenarios.



Abiotic Stress, Drought, Drought Tolerance, Plant Ecophysiology, Savanna