Most semiarid regions are facing an increasing scarcity of woody vegetation due mainly to anthropogenic deforestation aggravated by climate changes. However, there is insufficient information to reconstruct past changes in climate and to evaluate the implications of future climate changes on the vegetation. Tree-ring analysis is a powerful tool for studying tree age, population dynamics, growth behavior, and climate-growth relationships among tropical tree species and for gaining information about the environmental forces driving growth change as well as for developing proxies for climate reconstruction. Wood anatomical and dendrochronological methods were used on Juniperus procera trees from two Ethiopian highland forests to check (i) whether tree-ring series of juniper are cross-datable and hence suitable for building tree-ring chronologies, and if so, (ii) which climate factors mainly drive wood formation in juniper from this region. Visible growth layers of the juniper wood were shown to be annual rings. Tree-ring sequences could be cross-dated between trees growing at the same site and between trees growing at sites 350 km apart. Evidence was found that annual growth of junipers is mainly controlled by one climatic factor, precipitation. This strong precipitation influence proves the potential of African juniper chronologies for accurate climate reconstruction and points out the relevance of building a network of juniper chronologies across East Africa.
- tree-ring chronologies
- wood anatomy