Climate regimes override micro-site effects on the summer temperature signal of scots pine at its northern distribution limits

Jelena Lange*, Allan Buras, Roberto Cruz-García, Marina Gurskaya, Risto Jalkanen, Vladimir Kukarskih, Jeong Wook Seo, Martin Wilmking

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tree growth at northern boreal treelines is generally limited by summer temperature, hence tree rings serve as natural archives of past climatic conditions. However, there is increasing evidence that a changing summer climate as well as certain micro-site conditions can lead to a weakening or loss of the summer temperature signal in trees growing in treeline environments. This phenomenon poses a challenge to all applications relying on stable temperature-growth relationships such as temperature reconstructions and dynamic vegetation models. We tested the effect of differing ecological and climatological conditions on the summer temperature signal of Scots pine at its northern distribution limits by analyzing twelve sites distributed along a 2200 km gradient from Finland to Western Siberia (Russia). Two frequently used proxies in dendroclimatology, ring width and maximum latewood density, were correlated with summer temperature for the period 1901–2013 separately for (i) dry vs. wet micro-sites and (ii) years with dry/warm vs. wet/cold climate regimes prevailing during the growing season. Differing climate regimes significantly affected the temperature signal of Scots pine at about half of our sites: While correlations were stronger in wet/cold than in dry/warm years at most sites located in Russia, differing climate regimes had only little effect at Finnish sites. Both tree-ring proxies were affected in a similar way. Interestingly, micro-site differences significantly affected absolute tree growth, but had only minor effects on the climatic signal at our sites. We conclude that, despite the treeline-proximal location, growth-limiting conditions seem to be exceeded in dry/warm years at most Russian sites, leading to a weakening or loss of the summer temperature signal in Scots pine here. With projected temperature increase, unstable summer temperature signals in Scots pine tree rings might become more frequent, possibly affecting dendroclimatological applications and related fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1597
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Volume871
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Boreal forest
  • Climate change
  • Climate regime
  • Maximum latewood density
  • Micro-site
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Tree-ring width
  • Treeline

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    Lange, J., Buras, A., Cruz-García, R., Gurskaya, M., Jalkanen, R., Kukarskih, V., Seo, J. W., & Wilmking, M. (2018). Climate regimes override micro-site effects on the summer temperature signal of scots pine at its northern distribution limits. Frontiers in Plant Science, 871, [1597]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.01597