Trees and forests would be "learning" to adapt to climate change. According to an international investigation, its strategy is the best use of water.
The international study, led by the University of New Hampshire (USA), has shown that forests are adjusting the way they grow in the face of the climate crisis, taking advantage only of the fertilizing effect of carbon dioxide, and then grow faster if water is abundant .
The research found that the efficiency in the use of water by plants has increased in recent years, since with more carbon available in the atmosphere they could photosynthesize more quickly and thus save water.
Trees adapt to climate change
The relationship is not as direct or simple as the researchers initially believed, but the trees "have learned" to act in the face of increased CO2 in one way or another, depending on the availability of water.
“If the water is abundant, they do increase the capture of carbon dioxide and make photosynthesis faster to grow without taking into account transpiration; instead, if water is scarce, they prefer to slow down and conserve it ”, explained Rossella Guerrieri, lead author of the article and ecologist at the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF-UAB) in Barcelona.
“We have chosen eight mature forests and for each tree species we have extracted a wood core from its trunk. Once the rings corresponding to the last 30 years of growth were identified, we have applied a chemical analysis technique to them "Guerrieri detailed.
The research was conducted on 12 different tree species from the USA.
"This procedure," he added, "is done with isotopes and it is the only one that allows us to imagine how trees have responded to the increase in atmospheric dioxide and to changes in the climate over the last decades."
During photosynthesis, through the stomata, plants absorb the carbon dioxide they need to feed and grow, "But at the same time, however, these pores lose water."
"To know if a plant is efficient or not, we look at how much it grows in relation to how much water it uses to do so"said biologist Scott Ollinger.
"It is the same as the kilometers per liter of gasoline in a car, but with tons of carbon per liter of water", compared.