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Influence of drought on tree rings and tracheid features of Pinus nigra and Pinus sylvestris in a mesic Mediterranean forest

Martin Benito, Dario; Beeckman, Hans; Cañellas, Isabel

We investigated the influence of climate on the ring width and xylem anatomy of two co-occurring pines (Pinus nigra Arn. and P. sylvestris L.) in the mountains of east-central Spain in order to test their utility for dendroclimatic reconstructions. We developed chronologies of ring width, mean lumen diameter and mean cell-wall thickness (in the earlywood, latewood, and the total annual ring) and the number of cells between 1960 and 2006. Drought, expressed as the standardized precipitation-evapotranspiration index (SPEI), was the main climatic driver of tree radial growth, although trees were also sensitive to temperature (negative effect in previous autumn and current summer) and precipitation (with a general positive effect). P. sylvestris response was stronger to climate of the current year, whereas the effect of previous-year climate was more important for P. nigra. Warm and dry summers reduced ring width, tracheid lumen, and wall thickness in both species, whereas warm winter-spring temperatures had the opposite effect, primarily for P. sylvestris. Previous-year or early-season conditions mainly affected earlywood features, whereas latewood was more responsive to summer climate. Overall, climate appeared to be a stronger limiting factor for P. sylvestris. During periods of drought, cell-wall thickness was reduced while lumen width increased in the latewood of P. sylvestris. This could compromise its hydraulic safety against drought-induced cavitation as our site was close to the southern and dry edge of the species distribution area. Our results suggest that anatomical variables record different and stronger climate information than ring width variables, especially in P. sylvestris. Reconstruction models for SPEI at the 3-month scale were developed for July–August and September– October using principal components regression. The best models included anatomical and width variables of both pine species suggesting that tracheid chronologies can be useful for drought reconstructions especially at mesic sites or with species that encode a mixed drought and temperature-precipitation signal.



Also Published In

European Journal of Forest Research

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
October 2, 2012