Convergence in Water Use Efficiency Within Plant Functional Types across contrasting climates

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Water use efficiency (WUE) provides a direct measure of the inextricable link between plant carbon uptake and water loss, and it can be used to study how ecosystem function varies with climate. We analysed WUE data from the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), leveraging the high spatial resolution of ECOSTRESS to study the distribution of WUE values both within and among regions with different plant functional types. Our results indicate that despite wide local variability of WUE estimates, WUE tended to converge to common global optima (peaked distributions with variance <0.5 g C per kg H2O, kurtosis >3.0) for five of nine plant functional types (grassland, permanent wetland, savannah, deciduous broadleaf and deciduous needleleaf forest), and this convergence occurred in functional types that spanned distinct geographic regions and climates.


This article was originally published in Nature Plants, volume 8, in 2022.