Bedrock Type Mediates the Response of Vegetation Activity to Seasonal Precipitation in the Karst Forest
Conceptual models of critical regions in carbonate (left) and noncarbonate (right) rock regions in southwest China (cited by Green ). Compared to noncarbonate rock, carbonate rock can more easily dissolve and develop several fractures and pavements, and surface water can quickly move through the rock underground. Moreover, carbonate rock usually develops thin regolith, which further influences the water-holding capacity of regolith. Thus, we assume that vegetation in the carbonate rock region is more sensitive to drought than in the noncarbonate region.
As a main ecosystem of southwestern China, forests provide crucial ecosystem services, including watershed protection, erosion prevention, and carbon storage, and play a critical role in sustainable development. Moreover, forest ecosystems provide a habitat for diverse plants and animals. However, the response of forests to precipitation changes is still not clear. In this study, we assume the bedrock has the potential to obscure or distort the relationship between vegetation activity and environmental factors, and we investigate the indirect effects of lithology-associated features that affect vegetation growth in the Guizhou Province (one of the provinces in southwest China) based on a climate, soil, and bedrock database. We compare the vegetation dynamic in CRR with that in NCRR. Second, we test the vegetation growth response to precipitation in both regions. Third, we analyze the role of the bedrock type by considering how it changes the relationship between precipitation and vegetation activity. Specifically, we seek answers to the following two questions: (1) Does the relationship between precipitation and vegetation activity differ between CRR and NCRR? (2) Is vegetation growth more sensitive to droughts in CRR than in NCRR?
The bedrock type can decouple vegetation responses from the climate, demonstrating that substrate prosperity can contribute to the vegetation dynamics in a complex way, suggesting the importance of expanding our focus beyond surface climate and soil, and exploring the connections of each critical component. Our findings can be used to simulate the potential consequences of future climate changes for the different bedrock types. For vegetation located in CRR, a wetter climate can benefit vegetation greenness. In past decades, land management (such as the afforestation project) in Guizhou Province has shown a significant positive impact on vegetation growth; however, the increase in the frequency and intensity of drought events needs to be considered. As regions with carbonate bedrock cover 15% of the Earth’s surface, this threshold should be considered when studying vegetation growth responses to climate change in a karst landscape. To further improve our understanding of bedrock impacts, it is necessary to carry out field observation and control experiments to clarify the water-holding capacity of different bedrock zones. Meanwhile, we also need more details on species-specific drought adaptation mechanisms in karst forests, which can be crucial to enhance our accuracy regarding the prediction of how karst forests respond to climate change.
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