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Impacts of more frequent droughts on a relict low-altitude Pinus uncinata stand in the French Alps

Corona, Christophe
Lopez-Saez, Jérôme
Rovéra, Georges
Edouard, Jean-Louis
Guibal, Frédéric
Published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 2015, vol. 2, no. 82
Abstract Cold microclimatic conditions provide exceptional microhabitats to Pinus uncinata stands occurring at abnormally low altitudes in seven relict stands of the northern French Alps. Here, P. uncinata is located at the lower bounds of its ecological limits and therefore expected to provide a sensitive indicator of climate change processes. We used dendrochronological analysis to study the growth patterns of closely spaced chronologies across an elevational transect and compare a relict low-altitude to a P. uncinata stand located at the alpine treeline. Two detrending procedures are used to reveal high- and low-frequencies embedded in annually resolved ring-width series. Growth response of P. uncinata to instrumental temperature and precipitation data is investigated by means of moving response function analyses. Results show an increase in the sensitivity of tree-ring widths to drought during previous summer in both stands. At the treeline stand, an increasing response to fall temperature is observed whereby fall temperature and radial tree growth increased in two synchronous steps around ~1930 and from ~1980-present. At the low-altitude stand, P. uncinata appears more drought sensitive and exhibits a sharp growth decline since the mid-1980s, coinciding with increasing summer temperatures. Growth divergence between the two stands can be observed since the mid-1980s. We argue that the positive growth trend at the high-altitude stand is due to increasing fall temperatures which would favor the formation of metabolic reserves in conjunction with atmospheric CO2 enrichment that in turn would facilitate improved water use efficiency. At the relict low-altitude stand, in contrast, it seems that improved water use efficiency cannot compensate for the increase in summer temperatures.
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Research group Climatic Change and Climate Impacts
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CORONA, Christophe et al. Impacts of more frequent droughts on a relict low-altitude Pinus uncinata stand in the French Alps. In: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2015, vol. 2, n° 82. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2014.00082 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:121773

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Deposited on : 2019-08-21

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