Call for a new AFS topical issue: Trees, forests and water – recent advances on resistance and resilience to water deficits.

Editors: Erwin Dreyer, Hervé Cochard, Jean Marc Guehl, André Granier (INRAE) ; Maurizio Mencuccini (CREAF).

Scope :

Ecophysiology and functional ecology of trees and forests have made tremendous progress over the last decades and attracted much attention in the context of gradual climate change, and of the extreme climatic events, particularly exceptionally severe water deficits that affected even mesic forests across the world. Our understanding of all aspects of tree water relations (extraction from soil, transfer, hydraulic functions and dysfunctions, stomatal control of transpiration, ….) have been largely refined at tree scale (use of novel methods to trace water transfer in living trees, automated and repeatable assessments of hydraulic dysfunctions, understanding of the coordination between hydraulic properties and stomatal dynamics, ….). Moreover, the interactions between water relations and other process like carbon assimilation, tissue growth, nutrition, biomechanical properties, are better understood to date. In parallel, the water cycle in forest ecosystems is now better documented and long term monitoring of canopy transpiration allows to dissect the impact of canopy properties, climate variations and water shortage on water use. Recent results insisted for instance on some underestimated parameters like the direct effect of vapour pressure deficit on productivity, or the importance of cuticular transpiration for tree death under extreme water deficits.

These traits related to water relations and water-use display both a large genetic variability between species and populations within, as well as an important plasticity in response to changes. Such features are an important aspect to take into account in modelling water fluxes from soil to atmosphere.

The improved understanding of these processes has had important consequences for the construction of canopy models aimed at predicting the impact of climate change and climatic extremes on forests across the world. However, the degree of complexity of some of the processes cited above, and the difficulty of parameterizing some crucial processes still creates specific problems in the implementation and routine use of such process based vegetation models, particularly for forests.

Invitation to contribute :

We invite all interested authors to contribute to a topical issue in this area, through:

  • Review papers providing an overview for specific process related to water relations in trees and water cycles in forests;
  • Research papers dealing with specific aspects of water relations and water cycles in forests, including hydraulics in trees, transfer from soil to roots, short term stomatal dynamics and their influence on water use efficiency, cuticular transpiration, and many other processes that deserve additional attention with respect to the already large consensus knowledge on tree and forest water relations;
  • Opinion papers providing new insights about open research paths that would deserve further attention.
  • Data papers providing access to original data sets dealing with this topic.

Annals of Forest Science will be published by Springer BioMedCentral under a full open access procedure with article processing charges from 2022 on. This ensures free access to all published material and an increased visibility and impact of the published papers. We will offer the APCs to the review papers accepted for publication in this topical issue. Usual processing time, including a high level peer-review of the quality of the submitted manuscript, is about 2-3 months from submission to first decision.


As Annals of Forest Science is published under a continuous publication scheme (papers are published as soon as they have been accepted), we are quite flexible about submission deadlines. The submission will open end 2021 and close by January 2023.

In memoriam

This topical issue of Annals of Forest Science will be dedicated to the memory of Gilbert Aussenac, who promoted research on water use and water relations in forests at INRAE in France, and was chief editor of Annals of Forest Science during many years, and of Pierre Cruiziat, former researcher at INRAE, who was a precursor for water relation studies in trees. They strongly influenced the development of this topic in France. Both passed away during 2020.

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