The dendrochronological potential of Baikiaea plurijuga in Zambia

Justine Ngoma*, James H. Speer, Royd Vinya, Bart Kruijt, Eddy Moors, Rik Leemans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Climate has been demonstrated to change at different scales for as far back as we have been able to reconstruct it. However, anthropogenic factors have accelerated and are predicted to cause significant changes in temperature and precipitation around the globe. As a consequence, vegetation is being affected. To understand the historical behaviour of individual tree species and have insight on the potential effects of climate change, tree-ring studies have been applied. In this study, we examined a genus new to dendrochronology, namely Baikiaea plurijuga (Spreng.) Harm that dominates the Zambezi teak forests in Zambia with the objective of determining whether B. plurijuga forms annual rings and if so, whether these rings are cross-datable. We further determined the relationship between ring- width of B. plurijuga and climatic variables with the aim of understanding the potential climate change effects on the growth of these species in Zambia. We collected tree-ring samples from three Zambezi Teak forest reserves: Zambezi, Ila, and Masese located in Kabompo, Namwala, and Sesheke study sites respectively. Our examination of wood anatomical structures reviewed that the wood of B. plurijuga is diffuse porous and forms annual rings which were confirmed with samples of known age. The analysis resulted in three strong tree-ring chronologies of B. plurijuga. These chronologies were correlated with climate data from local weather stations which correlated negatively with evaporation and temperature and positively with rainfall. Our regression analysis indicated that evaporation has the highest influence on tree growth at all the study sites compared to temperature and rainfall alone. Evaporation in November and March, for example, explained almost a third of the radii's variance at the Namwala and Sesheke sites. The likely future temperature increase and rainfall decrease that are projected by IPCC for Southern Africa are likely to adversely affect B. plurijuga in Zambia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Africa
  • Baikiaea plurijuga
  • Dendrochronology
  • Dendroclimatology
  • Tree ring
  • Zambezi teak forest
  • Zambia


Dive into the research topics of 'The dendrochronological potential of Baikiaea plurijuga in Zambia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this