Underappreciated plant vulnerabilities to heat waves

David D. Breshears, Joseph B. Fontaine, Katinka X. Ruthrof, Jason P. Field, Xiao Feng, Joseph R. Burger, Darin J. Law, Jatin Kala, Giles E.St J. Hardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


With climate change, heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent, intense and broader in spatial extent. However, while the lethal effects of heat waves on humans are well documented, the impacts on flora are less well understood, perhaps except for crops. We summarize recent findings related to heat wave impacts including: sublethal and lethal effects at leaf and plant scales, secondary ecosystem effects, and more complex impacts such as increased heat wave frequency across all seasons, and interactions with other disturbances. We propose generalizable practical trials to quantify the critical bounding conditions of vulnerability to heat waves. Collectively, plant vulnerabilities to heat waves appear to be underappreciated and understudied, particularly with respect to understanding heat wave driven plant die-off and ecosystem tipping points.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • climate change
  • die-off
  • drought
  • extreme events
  • heat waves
  • mortality
  • warming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Underappreciated plant vulnerabilities to heat waves'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this