Submitted to: New Phytologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/18/2009
Publication Date: 5/26/2009
Citation: Fay, P.A. 2009. Precipitation variability and primary productivity in water-limited ecosystems: How plants 'leverage' precipitation to 'finance' growth. New Phytologist. 181:5-8.
Interpretive Summary: The controls on the net primary productivity of terrestrial ecosystems is particularly important in light of its critical relationship to ecosystem sustainability and the potential impact of climate change on ecosystem diversity, carbon sequestration, and capacity to support agriculture. This invited commentary discusses the key findings of a paper by Robertson et al to be published in early 2009 in New Phytologist. Robertson et al.’s paper advances the understanding of the impacts of variation in the annual, seasonal, and within-season patterns of precipitation on the productivity of several dominant plant species in the Chihuahuan desert. The structure and function of desert ecosystems are highly sensitive to the timing and amount of precipitation. This paper reveals that there are complex underlying dynamics in the productivity responses of individual species; some becoming more productive with increased precipitation, others less so. The study reveals the range of strategies plant species use to survive, and in this manuscript these strategies are illustrated by use of an economic analogy with current problems in the US and World financial sector.
Technical Abstract: No abstract - this is an Invited Commentary for the journal.