To address the need for advancing understanding of cloud forest response and adaptation to drought, we propose to conduct a targeted study on ecophysiological responses of dominant cloud forest species within the Wayqecha Throughfall-Fog Exclusion Experiment (WTFEE). The proposed work would complement ongoing research focused on understanding changes in carbon dynamics under increasing soil moisture deficit and reduced fog presence (Metalfe, pers. comm.). The specific objectives of our proposed study are to:
- Assess the role of integrated hydraulic functions (i.e., transpiration, foliar water uptake, stem capacitance, stomatal regulation) mediating plant response to soil and atmospheric moisture stress in dominant cloud forest species within the WTFE treatment and control plots.
- Characterize responses of stem growth and water use efficiency to historical climate variability and to experimental soil and atmospheric moisture stress in dominant cloud forest species within the WTFE treatment and control plots.
- Integrate the above measurements with ongoing carbon flux measurements to elucidate relationships between plant hydraulic functions, drought response, and plant and ecosystem level carbon balance.