Strip‐Bark Morphology and Radial Growth Trends in Ancient Pinus sibirica Trees From Central Mongolia
Some of the oldest and most important trees used for dendroclimatic reconstructions develop strip‐bark morphology, in which only a portion of the stem contains living tissue. Yet the ecophysiological factors initiating strip bark and the potential effect of cambial dieback on annual ring widths and tree‐ring estimates of past climate remain poorly understood. Using a combination of field observations and tree‐ring data, we investigate the causes and timing of cambial dieback events in Pinus sibirica strip‐bark trees from central Mongolia and compare the radial growth rates and trends of strip‐bark and whole‐bark trees over the past 515 years. Results indicate that strip bark is more common on the southern aspect of trees, and dieback events were most prevalent in the 19th century, a cold and dry period. Further, strip‐bark and whole‐bark trees have differing centennial trends, with strip‐bark trees exhibiting notably large increases in ring widths at the beginning of the 20th century. We find a steeper positive trend in the strip‐bark chronology relative to the whole‐bark chronology when standardizing with age‐dependent splines. We hypothesize that localized warming on the southern side of stems due to solar irradiance results in physiological damage and dieback and leads to increasing tree‐ring increment along the living portion of strip‐bark trees. Because the impact of cambial dieback on ring widths likely varies depending on species and site, we suggest conducting a comparison of strip‐bark and whole‐bark ring widths before statistically treating ring‐width data for climate reconstructions.
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