Anna Sala

Anna Sala


Fax: (406) 243 4164

Personal Website
Curriculum Vitae

Current Position

Professor, Division of Biological Sciences

Adjunct Professor, College of Forestry and Conservation



Plant Physiology (BIOO 433, 434)

Physiological Plant Ecology (BIOO 524)

Introduction to Botany (BIOO 105)


B.S. University of Barcelona (Spain), 1984
Ph.D. University of Barcelona (Spain), 1992

Research Interests

We are broadly interested in the physiological basis of plant performance in nature, with a special focus on plant resource dynamics and its implications on life history strategies and responses to the environment (including drought, fire and bark beetles). We mostly focus on trees, particularly conifers, though we have studied other interesting plant forms. Our research is mostly driven by curiosity to explain patterns in nature.  Some questions that keep us intrigued include:  Are stored nonstructural carbohydrates important for plant water relations and responses to drought? If so, why?; Why do inherently slow growing trees live to older ages? Why are faster growing trees less resistant to environmental stresses?; What are the consequences of alteration of fire regimes on resource availability and tree performance, including defenses against pests and responses to drought?

Field of Study

Plant physiological ecology

Tree Physiology

Forest Ecology

Selected Publications

Reed CC, Ballantyne AP, Cooper A, Sala A. 2018. Limited evidence for CO2-related growth enhancement in northern Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine populations: Trends in growth and intrinsic water-use efficiency across climate gradients. Global Change Biology. In press.

Lloret F, Sapes G, Rosas T, Galiano L, Saura-Mas S, Sala A, Martínez-Vilalta J. 2018. Non-structural carbohydrates dynamics associated with drought-induced die-off in woody species of a shrubland community. Annals of Botany. In press.

Madani N, Kimball JS, Ballantyne AP, Affleck DLR, van Bodegom PM, Reich PB, Kattge J, Sala A,  Nazeri M, Jones, MO, Zhao M, Running SW. 2018. Future global productivity will be affected by plant trait response to climate. Scientific Reports 8:2870 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-21172-9

Adams HD, et al. (including Sala A). 2017 A multi-species synthesis of physiological mechanisms in drought-induced tree mortality. Nature Ecology and Evolution 1: 1285–1291

Verdaguer D, Sala A. 2017. La fisiologia vegetal a través de preguntes: Les plantes, l’aigua i els nutrients. Documenta Universitaria. Universitat de Girona. 162 pp.

De la Mata R, Hood S, Sala A. 2017. Insect outbreak shifts the direction of selection from fast to slow growth rates in the long-lived conifer Pinus ponderosa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 114:7391–7396. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1700032114

Martínez-Vilalta* J, Sala A*, Asensio D; Galiano L, Hoch G, Palacio S, Piper FI, Lloret F. 2016. Dynamics of non-structural carbohydrates in terrestrial plants: a global synthesis. Ecological Monographs 86:495-516. *equal contribution

Hood S, Baker S, Sala A. 2016. Fortifying the Forest: Thinning and Burning Increase Resistance to a Bark Beetle Outbreak and Promote Forest Resilience. Ecological Applications. 26: 1984-2000. doi: 10.1002/eap.1363. Featured in The Economist (May 26, 2016).

Anderegg WRL, Hicke JA, Fisher RA, Allen CD, Aukema J, Bentz B, Hood S, Lichstein JW, Macalady AK, McDowell N, Pan Y, Raffa K, Sala A, Shaw JD, Stephenson NL, Tague C, Zeppel M. 2015. Tree mortality from drought, insects, and their interactions in a changing climate. New Phytologist 208: 674–683. doi: 10.1111/nph.13477. Faculty of 1000 Biology.

Hood S, Sala A, Heyerdahl EK, Boutin M. 2015. Low-severity fire increases tree defense against bark beetle attacks. Ecology 96: 1846-1855. doi: 10.1890/14-0487.1. Led to US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources testimony. May 2016, Washington D.C.

Sala A, Mencuccini M. 2014. Plumb trees win under drought. Nature Climate Change 4:666-667.

Dietze M, Sala A, Carbone M, Czimczik C, Mantooth JA, Richardson AD, Vargas R. 2014. Nonstructural Carbon in Woody Plants. Annual Review of Plant Biology 65:667–87

Sala A. Hopping K, McIntire EJB, Delzon S, Crone EE. 2012. Masting in whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) depletes stored nutrients. New Phytologist 196: 189–199. Faculty of 1000 Biology.

Sala A, Woodruff DW, Meinzer FR. 2012. Carbon dynamics in trees: feast or famine? Tree Physiology 32: 764-775.

Keeling EG, Sala A. 2012. Changing growth response to wildfire in old-growth ponderosa pine trees in montane forests of North Central Idaho. Global Change Biology 18:1117-1126.

Lloret F, Keeling EG. Sala A. 2011. Components of tree resilience: effects of successive low-growth episodes in old ponderosa pine forests. Oikos 120:1909-1920.

Gremer JR, Sala A, Crone EE. 2010. Disappearing plants: why they hide and how they return. Ecology 91: 3407-3413.

Naficy CE, Sala A, Keeling EG, Graham, J, Deluca TH. 2010. Strong effects of historical logging: fire exclusion alone does not explain contemporary forest structure. Ecological Applications. 20: 1851-1864.

Sala A, Piper F, Hoch G. 2010. Physiological mechanisms of drought-induced tree mortality are far from being resolved. New Phytologist 186:274-281. Selected for the 200 Anniversary Issue of New Phytologist.

Crone EE, Miller E, Sala A. 2009. How do plants know when other plants are flowering? Resource depletion, pollen limitation and mast-seeding in a perennial wildflower. Ecology Letters 11:1119-26. Science Editor Choice (Nov. 27, 2009). Faculty of 1000 Biology.  

Sala A. 2009.  Lack of direct evidence for the carbon-starvation hypothesis to explain drought-induced mortality in trees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 106 (26) E68.  doi:10.1073/pnas.0904580106

Sala A, Hoch G. 2009. Height-related growth declines in ponderosa pine are not due to carbon limitation. Plant, Cell and Environment. 32:22-30. Faculty of 1000 Biology.

DeLuca TH, Sala A. 2006. Frequent fire alters nitrogen transformations in natural Ponderosa Pine stands of the Inland Northwest. Ecology 87: 2511-2522.

Sala A. 2006. Hydraulic compensation in Northern Rocky Mountain conifers: does successional position and life history matter? Oecologia 149:1-11.

Sala A, Peters GD, McIntyre LR, Harrington MG. 2005. Physiological responses of ponderosa pine in western Montana to thinning, prescribed burning, and burning season. Tree Physiology 25:339-348.

Martínez-Vilalta J, Sala A, Piñol J. 2004. The hydraulic architecture of Pinaceae. Plant Ecology 171: 3-13.

Sexton JP, McKay JK, Sala A. 2002. Plasticity and adaptive evolution may allow saltcedar to invade cold climates in North America. Ecological Applications 12:1652-1660.

Sala A, Carey EV, Keane RE, Callaway RM. 2001. Water use by whitebark pine and subalpine fir: consequences of fire suppression in subalpine forests. Tree Physiology 21:717-725.

Carey EV, Sala A, Keane RB, Callaway RM. 2001. Are old growth forests underestimated as global carbon sinks? Global Change Biology 7:339-344.

Sala A, Carey EV, Callaway RM. 2001. Dwarf Mistletoe affects whole tree water relations of Douglas-fir and western larch primarily through changes in biomass allocation. Oecologia 126:42-52.

Piñol J, Sala A. 2000. Ecological implications of xylem embolism of several Pinaceae of NW United States. Functional Ecology 14:538-545.

Sala A, Smith SD, Devitt DA. 1996. Water use by Tamarix ramosissima and associated phreatophytes in a Mojave Desert floodplain. Ecological Applications 6: 888-898.

Sala A, Tenhunen JD. 1996. Simulation of net canopy photosynthesis and transpiration in Quercus ilex L. under the influence of seasonal drought. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 78: 203-222.

Sala A, Tenhunen JD.  1994. Site-specific stomatal response and water relations in Quercus ilex in a Mediterranean watershed. Tree Physiology 14: 601-617.

Tenhunen JD, Sala Serra A, Harley PC, Reynolds JF, Dougherty RL. 1990. Factors influencing carbon fixation and water use by Mediterranean sclerophyll shrubs during summer drought. Oecologia 82: 381-393.