Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 557669
Title Long-term physiological and growth responses of Himalayan fir to environmental change are mediated by mean climate
Author(s) Panthi, Shankar; Fan, Ze Xin; Sleen, Peter van der; Zuidema, Pieter A.
Source Global Change Biology 26 (2020)3. - ISSN 1354-1013 - p. 1778 - 1794.
Department(s) Forest Ecology and Forest Management
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2020
Keyword(s) central Himalaya - climate change - elevation gradients - high-elevation forests - Himalayan fir (Abies spectabilis) - intrinsic water-use efficiency (iWUE) - long-term growth trends - tree rings

High-elevation forests are experiencing high rates of warming, in combination with CO2 rise and (sometimes) drying trends. In these montane systems, the effects of environmental changes on tree growth are also modified by elevation itself, thus complicating our ability to predict effects of future climate change. Tree-ring analysis along an elevation gradient allows quantifying effects of gradual and annual environmental changes. Here, we study long-term physiological (ratio of internal to ambient CO2, i.e., Ci/Ca and intrinsic water-use efficiency, iWUE) and growth responses (tree-ring width) of Himalayan fir (Abies spectabilis) trees in response to warming, drying, and CO2 rise. Our study was conducted along elevational gradients in a dry and a wet region in the central Himalaya. We combined dendrochronology and stable carbon isotopes (δ13C) to quantify long-term trends in Ci/Ca ratio and iWUE (δ13C-derived), growth (mixed-effects models), and evaluate climate sensitivity (correlations). We found that iWUE increased over time at all elevations, with stronger increase in the dry region. Climate–growth relations showed growth-limiting effects of spring moisture (dry region) and summer temperature (wet region), and negative effects of temperature (dry region). We found negative growth trends at lower elevations (dry and wet regions), suggesting that continental-scale warming and regional drying reduced tree growth. This interpretation is supported by δ13C-derived long-term physiological responses, which are consistent with responses to reduced moisture and increased vapor pressure deficit. At high elevations (wet region), we found positive growth trends, suggesting that warming has favored tree growth in regions where temperature most strongly limits growth. At lower elevations (dry and wet regions), the positive effects of CO2 rise did not mitigate the negative effects of warming and drying on tree growth. Our results raise concerns on the productivity of Himalayan fir forests at low and middle (<3,300 m) elevations as climate change progresses.

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