Research on the degree to which carbon (C) availability limits growth in trees, as well as recent trends in climate change and concurrent increases in drought-related tree mortality, have led to a renewed focus on the physiological mechanisms associated with tree growth responses to current and future climate. This has led to some dispute over the role of stored non-structural C compounds as indicators of a tree's current demands for photosynthate. Much of the uncertainty surrounding this issue could be resolved by developing a better understanding of the potential functions of non-structural C stored within trees. In addition to functioning as a buffer to reconcile temporal asynchrony between C demand and supply, the storage of non-structural C compounds may be under greater regulation than commonly recognized. We propose that in the face of environmental stochasticity, large, long-lived trees may require larger C investments in storage pools as safety margins than previously recognized, and that an important function of these pools may be to maintain hydraulic transport, particularly during episodes of severe stress. If so, survival and long-term growth in trees remain a function of C availability. Given that drought, freeze-thaw events and increasing tree height all impose additional constraints on vascular transport, the common trend of an increase in non-structural carbohydrate concentrations with tree size, drought or cold is consistent with our hypothesis. If the regulated maintenance of relatively large constitutive stored C pools in trees serves to maintain hydraulic integrity, then the minimum thresholds are expected to vary depending on the specific tissues, species, environment, growth form and habit. Much research is needed to elucidate the extent to which allocation of C to storage in trees is a passive vs. an active process, the specific functions of stored C pools, and the factors that drive active C allocation to storage.
The mechanistic understanding of isotope fractionation processes is increasing but we still lack detailed knowledge of the processes that determine the isotopic composition of the tree-ring archive over the long term. Especially with regard to the path from leaf photosynthate production to wood formation, post-assimilation fractionations/processes might cause at least a partial decoupling between the leaf isotope signals that record processes such as stomatal conductance, transpiration and photosynthesis, and the wood or cellulose signals that are stored in the paleophysiological record. In this review, we start from the rather well understood processes at the leaf level such as photosynthetic carbon isotope fractionation, leaf water evaporative isotope enrichment and the issue of the isotopic composition of inorganic sources (CO2 and H2O), though we focus on the less explored 'downstream' processes related to metabolism and transport. We further summarize the roles of cellulose and lignin as important chemical constituents of wood, and the processes that determine the transfer of photosynthate (sucrose) and associated isotopic signals to wood production. We cover the broad topics of post-carboxylation carbon isotope fractionation and of the exchange of organic oxygen with water within the tree. In two case studies, we assess the transfer of carbon and oxygen isotopic signals from leaves to tree rings. Finally we address the issue of different temporal scales and link isotope fractionation at the shorter time scale for processes in the leaf to the isotopic ratio as recorded across longer time scales of the tree-ring archive.
Hydraulic failure is one of the main causes of tree mortality in conditions of severe drought. Resistance to cavitation is known to be strongly related to drought tolerance and species survival in conifers, but the threshold of water-stress-induced embolism leading to catastrophic xylem dysfunction in angiosperms has been little studied. We investigated the link between drought tolerance, survival and xylem cavitation resistance in five angiosperm tree species known to have contrasting desiccation resistance thresholds. We exposed seedlings in a greenhouse to severe drought to generate extreme water stress. We monitored leaf water potential, total plant water loss rate, leaf transpiration, stomatal conductance and CO2 assimilation rate during drought exposure and after rewatering (recovery phase). The time required for the recovery of 50% of the maximum value of a given ecophysiological variable after rewatering was used to determine the critical water potential corresponding to the threshold beyond which the plant failed to recover. We also investigated the relationship between this potential and stem xylem cavitation resistance, as assessed from vulnerability curves. This minimum recoverable water potential was consistent between ecophysiological variables and varied considerably between species, from -3.4 to -6.0 MPa. This minimum recoverable water potential was strongly correlated with P-50 and P-88, the pressures inducing 50 and 88% losses of stem hydraulic conductance, respectively. Moreover, the embolism threshold leading to irreversible drought damage was found to be close to 88%, rather than the 50% previously reported for conifers. Hydraulic failure leading to irreversible drought-induced global dysfunction in angiosperm tree species occurred at a very high level of xylem embolism, possibly reflecting the physiological characteristics of their stem water-transport system.
The response of tree growth to a change in temperature may differ in predictable ways. Trees with conservative growth strategies may have little ability to respond to a changing climate. In addition, high latitude and altitude tree growth may be temperature-limited and thus benefit from some degree of warming, as opposed to warm-adapted species. Using data from 63 studies, we examined whether trees from different functional groups and thermal niches differed in their growth response to a change in growth temperature. We also investigated whether responses predicted for a change in growth temperature (both reduced and elevated) were similar for increased temperatures by repeating the analysis on the subset of raised temperature data to confirm the validity of our results for use in a climate-warming scenario. Using both the temperature-change response and the warming response, we found that elevated temperatures enhanced growth (measured as shoot height, stem diameter and biomass) in deciduous species more than in evergreen trees. Tropical species were indeed more susceptible to warming-induced growth declines than temperate or boreal trees in both analyses. More carbon may be available to allocate to growth at high temperatures because respiration acclimated more strongly than photosynthesis, increasing carbon assimilation but moderating carbon losses. Trees that developed at elevated temperatures did not simply accelerate growth but followed different developmental trajectories than unwarmed trees, allocating more biomass to leaves and less to roots and growing taller for a given stem diameter. While there were insufficient data to analyze trends for particular species, we generated equations to describe general trends in tree growth to temperature changes and to warming for use at large spatial scales or where data are lacking. We discuss the implications of these results in the context of a changing climate and highlight the areas of greatest uncertainty regarding temperature and tree growth where future research is needed.
The role of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) storage by trees will be discussed in terms of uncoupling their growth from resource acquisition. There are profound differences between the physiology of C and N storage. C storage acts as a short-term, temporary buffer when photosynthesis cannot meet current sink demand and remobilization is sink driven. However, the majority of C allocated to non-structural carbohydrates such as starch is not reused so is in fact sequestered, not stored. In contrast, N storage is seasonally programmed, closely linked to tree phenology and operates at temporal scales of months to years, with remobilization being source driven. We examine the ecological significance of N storage and remobilization in terms of regulating plant N use efficiency, allowing trees to uncouple seasonal growth from N uptake by roots and allowing recovery from disturbances such as browsing damage. We also briefly consider the importance of N storage and remobilization in regulating how trees will likely respond to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Most studies of N storage and remobilization have been restricted to small trees growing in a controlled environment where N-15 can be used easily as a tracer for mineral N. We highlight the need to describe and quantify these processes for adult trees in situ where most root N uptake occurs via ectomycorrhizal partners, an approach that now appears feasible for deciduous trees through quantification of the flux of remobilized N in their xylem. This opens new possibilities for studying interactions between N and C allocation in trees and associated mycorrhizal partners, which are likely to be crucial in regulating the response of trees to many aspects of global environmental change.
An age effect on growth trends and climate/growth relationships of trees can possibly be discovered by analysing the seasonal dynamics of xylem development. The aims of this study, therefore, were to compare xylem formation of young (43 +/- 4 years) and old (162 +/- 26 years) Smith fir (Abies georgei var. smithii (Viguie & Gaussen) W. C. Cheng & L. K. Fu) trees in the Sygera Mountains, south-eastern Tibetan Plateau and, to identify the association between wood formation and climate. The seasonal radial growth dynamics of young and old trees was monitored on microcores collected at weekly intervals during two growing seasons. Transverse sections through phloem, cambium and outermost xylem of 9-12 mu m thickness were observed with a light microscope under bright field and polarized light to follow the cambial activity and differentiation of the developing xylem. Young trees were characterized by an earlier onset of xylogenesis, a longer growing season and a higher growth rate, resulting in a higher number of xylem cells. Both young and old trees responded fast to changes of the minimum air temperature, confirming that this factor was dominant by controlling Smith fir growth on the south-eastern Tibetan Plateau.
Monitoring cambial phenology and intra-annual growth dynamics is a useful approach for characterizing the tree growth response to climate change. However, there have been few reports concerning intra-annual wood formation in lowland temperate forests with high time resolution, especially for the comparison between deciduous and coniferous species. The main objective of this study was to determine how the timing, duration and rate of radial growth change between species as related to leaf phenology and the dynamics of non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) under the same climatic conditions. We studied two deciduous species, Fagus sylvatica L. and Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl., and an evergreen conifer, Pinus sylvestris L. During the 2009 growing season, we weekly monitored (i) the stem radial increment using dendrometers, (ii) the xylem growth using microcoring and (iii) the leaf phenology from direct observations of the tree crowns. The NSC content was also measured in the eight last rings of the stem cores in April, June and August 2009. The leaf phenology, NSC storage and intra-annual growth were clearly different between species, highlighting their contrasting carbon allocation. Beech growth began just after budburst, with a maximal growth rate when the leaves were mature and variations in the NSC content were low. Thus, beech radial growth seemed highly dependent on leaf photosynthesis. For oak, earlywood quickly developed before budburst, which probably led to the starch decrease quantified in the stem from April to June. For pine, growth began before the needles unfolding and the lack of NSC decrease during the growing season suggested that the substrates for radial growth were new assimilates of the needles from the previous year. Only for oak, the pattern determined from the intra-annual growth measured using microcoring differed from the pattern determined from dendrometer data. For all species, the ring width was significantly influenced by growth duration and not by growth rate, which differs from previous studies. The observed between-species difference at the intra-annual scale is key information for anticipating suitability of future species in temperate forests.
Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) in plant tissue are frequently quantified to make inferences about plant responses to environmental conditions. Laboratories publishing estimates of NSC of woody plants use many different methods to evaluate NSC. We asked whether NSC estimates in the recent literature could be quantitatively compared among studies. We also asked whether any differences among laboratories were related to the extraction and quantification methods used to determine starch and sugar concentrations. These questions were addressed by sending sub-samples collected from five woody plant tissues, which varied in NSC content and chemical composition, to 29 laboratories. Each laboratory analyzed the samples with their laboratory-specific protocols, based on recent publications, to determine concentrations of soluble sugars, starch and their sum, total NSC. Laboratory estimates differed substantially for all samples. For example, estimates for Eucalyptus globulus leaves (EGL) varied from 23 to 116 (mean = 56) mg g-1 for soluble sugars, 6-533 (mean = 94) mg g-1 for starch and 53-649 (mean = 153) mg g-1 for total NSC. Mixed model analysis of variance showed that much of the variability among laboratories was unrelated to the categories we used for extraction and quantification methods (method category R2 = 0.05-0.12 for soluble sugars, 0.10-0.33 for starch and 0.01-0.09 for total NSC). For EGL, the difference between the highest and lowest least squares means for categories in the mixed model analysis was 33 mg g-1 for total NSC, compared with the range of laboratory estimates of 596 mg g-1. Laboratories were reasonably consistent in their ranks of estimates among tissues for starch (r = 0.41-0.91), but less so for total NSC (r = 0.45-0.84) and soluble sugars (r = 0.11-0.83). Our results show that NSC estimates for woody plant tissues cannot be compared among laboratories. The relative changes in NSC between treatments measured within a laboratory may be comparable within and between laboratories, especially for starch. To obtain comparable NSC estimates, we suggest that users can either adopt the reference method given in this publication, or report estimates for a portion of samples using the reference method, and report estimates for a standard reference material. Researchers interested in NSC estimates should work to identify and adopt standard methods.
Pulse-labelling of trees with stable or radioactive carbon (C) isotopes offers the unique opportunity to trace the fate of labelled CO2 into the tree and its release to the soil and the atmosphere. Thus, pulse-labelling enables the quantification of C partitioning in forests and the assessment of the role of partitioning in tree growth, resource acquisition and C sequestration. However, this is associated with challenges as regards the choice of a tracer, the methods of tracing labelled C in tree and soil compartments and the quantitative analysis of C dynamics. Based on data from 47 studies, the rate of transfer differs between broadleaved and coniferous species and decreases as temperature and soil water content decrease. Labelled C is rapidly transferred belowground-within a few days or less-and this transfer is slowed down by drought. Half-lives of labelled C in phloem sap (transfer pool) and in mature leaves (source organs) are short, while those of sink organs (growing tissues, seasonal storage) are longer. C-13 measurements in respiratory efflux at high temporal resolution provide the best estimate of the mean residence times of C in respiratory substrate pools, and the best basis for compartmental modelling. Seasonal C dynamics and allocation patterns indicate that sink strength variations are important drivers for C fluxes. We propose a conceptual model for temperate and boreal trees, which considers the use of recently assimilated C versus stored C. We recommend best practices for designing and analysing pulse-labelling experiments, and identify several topics which we consider of prime importance for future research on C allocation in trees: (i) whole-tree C source-sink relations, (ii) C allocation to secondary metabolism, (iii) responses to environmental change, (iv) effects of seasonality versus phenology in and across biomes, and (v) carbon-nitrogen interactions. Substantial progress is expected from emerging technologies, but the largest challenge remains to carry out in situ whole-tree labelling experiments on mature trees to improve our understanding of the environmental and physiological controls on C allocation.
We review approaches to predicting carbon and nitrogen allocation in forest models in terms of their underlying assumptions and their resulting strengths and limitations. Empirical and allometric methods are easily developed and computationally efficient, but lack the power of evolution-based approaches to explain and predict multifaceted effects of environmental variability and climate change. In evolution-based methods, allocation is usually determined by maximization of a fitness proxy, either in a fixed environment, which we call optimal response (OR) models, or including the feedback of an individual's strategy on its environment (game-theoretical optimization, GTO). Optimal response models can predict allocation in single trees and stands when there is significant competition only for one resource. Game-theoretical optimization can be used to account for additional dimensions of competition, e.g., when strong root competition boosts root allocation at the expense of wood production. However, we demonstrate that an OR model predicts similar allocation to a GTO model under the root-competitive conditions reported in free-air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE) experiments. The most evolutionarily realistic approach is adaptive dynamics (AD) where the allocation strategy arises from eco-evolutionary dynamics of populations instead of a fitness proxy. We also discuss emerging entropy-based approaches that offer an alternative thermodynamic perspective on allocation, in which fitness proxies are replaced by entropy or entropy production. To help develop allocation models further, the value of wide-ranging datasets, such as FLUXNET, could be greatly enhanced by ancillary measurements of driving variables, such as water and soil nitrogen availability.
Tree-ring stable isotopes, providing insight into drought-induced eco-physiological mechanisms, are frequently used to reconstruct past changes in growing season temperature and precipitation. Their climatic response is, however, still not fully understood, particularly for data originating from non-extreme, mid-latitude environments with differing ecological conditions. Here, we assess the response of delta C-13, delta O-18 and tree-ring width (TRW) from a temperate mountain forest in the Austrian pre-Alps to climate and specific drought events. Variations in stem growth and isotopic composition of Norway spruce, common beech and European larch from dry, medium and moist sites are compared with records of sunshine, temperature, moisture, precipitation and cloud cover. Results indicate uniform year-to-year variations in delta C-13 and delta O-18 across sites and species, but distinct differences in TRW according to habitat and species. While the climate sensitivity of TRW is overall weak, the delta C-13 and delta O-18 chronologies contain significant signals with a maximum sensitivity to cloud cover changes (r = -0.72 for delta O-18). The coherent inter-annual isotopic variations are accompanied by substantial differences in the isotopic signatures with offsets up to similar to 3aEuro degrees for delta C-13, indicating species-specific physiological strategies and varying water-use efficiencies. During severe summer drought, beech and larch benefit from access to deeper and moist soils, allowing them to keep their stomata open. This strategy is accompanied by an increased water loss through transpiration, but simultaneously enables enhanced photosynthesis. Our findings indicate the potential of tree-ring stable isotopes from temperate forests to reconstruct changes in cloud cover, and to improve knowledge on basic physiological mechanisms of tree species growing in different habitats to cope with soil moisture deficits.
Trees are among the best natural archives of past environmental information. Xylem anatomy preserves information related to tree allometry and ecophysiological performance, which is not available from the more customary ring-width or wood-density proxy parameters. Recent technological advances make tree-ring anatomy very attractive because time frames of many centuries can now be covered. This calls for the proper treatment of time series of xylem anatomical attributes. In this article, we synthesize current knowledge on the biophysical and physiological mechanisms influencing the short- to long-term variation in the most widely used wood-anatomical feature, namely conduit size. We also clarify the strong mechanistic link between conduit-lumen size, tree hydraulic architecture and height growth. Among the key consequences of these biophysical constraints is the pervasive, increasing trend of conduit size during ontogeny. Such knowledge is required to process time series of anatomical parameters correctly in order to obtain the information of interest. An appropriate standardization procedure is fundamental when analysing long tree-ring-related chronologies. When dealing with wood-anatomical parameters, this is even more critical. Only an interdisciplinary approach involving ecophysiology, wood anatomy and dendrochronology will help to distill the valuable information about tree height growth and past environmental variability correctly.
Productivity of tree plantations is a function of the supply, capture and efficiency of use of resources, as outlined in the Production Ecology Equation. Species interactions in mixed-species stands can influence each of these variables. The importance of resource-use efficiency in determining forest productivity has been clearly demonstrated in monocultures; however, substantial knowledge gaps remain for mixtures. This review examines how the physiology and morphology of a given species can vary depending on whether it grows in a mixture or monoculture. We outline how physiological and morphological shifts within species, resulting from interactions in mixtures, may influence the three variables of the Production Ecology Equation, with an emphasis on nutrient resources [nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)]. These include (i) resource availability, including soil nutrient mineralization, N-2 fixation and litter decomposition; (ii) proportion of resources captured, resulting from shifts in spatial, temporal and chemical patterns of root dynamics; (iii) resource-use efficiency. We found that more than 50% of mixed-species studies report a shift to greater above-ground nutrient content of species grown in mixtures compared to monocultures, indicating an increase in the proportion of resources captured from a site. Secondly, a meta-analysis showed that foliar N concentrations significantly increased for a given species in a mixture containing N-2-fixing species, compared to a monoculture, suggesting higher rates of photosynthesis and greater resource-use efficiency. Significant shifts in N- and P-use efficiencies of a given species, when grown in a mixture compared to a monoculture, occurred in over 65% of studies where resource-use efficiency could be calculated. Such shifts can result from changes in canopy photosynthetic capacities, changes in carbon allocation or changes to foliar nutrient residence times of species in a mixture. We recommend that future research focus on individual species' changes, particularly with respect to resource-use efficiency (including nutrients, water and light), when trees are grown in mixtures compared to monocultures. A better understanding of processes responsible for changes to tree productivity in mixed-species tree plantations can improve species, and within-species, selection so that the long-term outcome of mixtures is more predictable.
Mangrove forests dominate the world's tropical and subtropical coastlines. Similar to other plant communities, nutrient availability is one of the major factors influencing mangrove forest structure and productivity. Many mangrove soils have extremely low nutrient availability, although nutrient availability can vary greatly among and within mangrove forests. Nutrient-conserving processes in mangroves are well developed and include evergreeness, resorption of nutrients prior to leaf fall, the immobilization of nutrients in leaf litter during decomposition, high root/shoot ratios and the repeated use of old root channels. Both nitrogen-use efficiency and nutrient resorption efficiencies in mangroves are amongst the highest recorded for angiosperms. A complex range of interacting abiotic and biotic factors controls the availability of nutrients to mangrove trees, and mangroves are characteristically plastic in their ability to opportunistically utilize nutrients when these become available. Nitrogen and phosphorus have been implicated as the nutrients most likely to limit growth in mangroves. Ammonium is the primary form of nitrogen in mangrove soils, in part as a result of anoxic soil conditions, and tree growth is supported mainly by ammonium uptake. Nutrient enrichment is a major threat to marine ecosystems. Although mangroves have been proposed to protect the marine environment from land-derived nutrient pollution, nutrient enrichment can have negative consequences for mangrove forests and their capacity for retention of nutrients may be limited.
Sunflecks are brief, intermittent periods of high photon flux density (PFD) that can significantly improve carbon gain in shaded forest understories and lower canopies of trees. In this review, we discuss the physiological basis of leaf-level responses to sunflecks and the mechanisms plants use to tolerate sudden changes in PFD and leaf temperature induced by sunflecks. We also examine the potential effects of climate change stresses (including elevated temperatures, rising CO2 concentrations and drought) on the ability of tree species to use sunflecks, and advocate more research to improve our predictions of seedling and tree carbon gain in future climates. Lastly, while we have the ability to model realistic responses of photosynthesis to fluctuating PFD, dynamic responses of photosynthesis to sunflecks are not accounted for in current models of canopy carbon uptake, which can lead to substantial overestimates of forest carbon fixation. Since sunflecks are a critical component of seasonal carbon gain for shaded leaves, sunfleck regimes and physiological responses to sunflecks should be incorporated into models to more accurately capture forest carbon dynamics.
Spring phenology is thought to exert a major influence on the carbon (C) balance of temperate and boreal ecosystems. We investigated this hypothesis using four spring onset phenological indicators in conjunction with surface-atmosphere CO2 exchange data from the conifer-dominated Howland Forest and deciduous-dominated Harvard Forest AmeriFlux sites. All phenological measures, including CO2 source-sink transition dates, could be well predicted on the basis of a simple two-parameter spring warming model, indicating good potential for improving the representation of phenological transitions and their dynamic responsiveness to climate variability in land surface models. The date at which canopy-scale photosynthetic capacity reached a threshold value of 12 μmol m−2 s−1 was better correlated with spring and annual flux integrals than were either deciduous or coniferous bud burst dates. For all phenological indicators, earlier spring onset consistently, but not always significantly, resulted in higher gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (RE) for both seasonal (spring months, April-June) and annual flux integrals. The increase in RE was less than that in GPP; depending on the phenological indicator used, a one-day advance in spring onset increased springtime net ecosystem productivity (NEP) by 2-4 g C m−2 day−1. In general, we could not detect significant differences between the two forest types in response to earlier spring, although the response to earlier spring was generally more pronounced for Harvard Forest than for Howland Forest, suggesting that future climate warming may favor deciduous species over coniferous species, at least in this region. The effect of earlier spring tended to be about twice as large when annual rather than springtime flux integrals were considered. This result is suggestive of both immediate and lagged effects of earlier spring onset on ecosystem C cycling, perhaps as a result of accelerated N cycling rates and cascading effects on N uptake, foliar N concentrations and photosynthetic capacity.
It is unclear how or even if phosphorus (P) input alters the influence of nitrogen (N) deposition in a forest. In theory, nutrients in leaves and twigs differing in age may show different responses to elevated nutrient input. To test this possibility, we selected Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) for a series of N and P addition experiments using treatments of +N1 - P (50 kg N ha(-1) year(-1)), + N2 - P (100 kg N ha(-1) year(-1)), -N + P (50 kg P ha(-1) year(-1)), + N1 + P, + N2 + P and - N - P (without N and P addition). Soil samples were analyzed for mineral N and available P concentrations. Leaves and twigs in summer and their litters in winter were classified as and sorted into young and old components to measure N and P concentrations. Soil mineral N and available P increased with N and P additions, respectively. Nitrogen addition increased leaf and twig N concentrations in the second year, but not in the first year; P addition increased leaf and twig P concentrations in both years and enhanced young but not old leaf and twig N accumulations. Nitrogen and P resorption proficiencies in litters increased in response to N and P additions, but N and P resorption efficiencies were not significantly altered. Nitrogen resorption efficiency was generally higher in leaves than in twigs and in young vs old leaves and twigs. Phosphorus resorption efficiency showed a minimal variation from 26.6 to 47.0%. Therefore, P input intensified leaf and twig N enrichment with N addition, leaf and twig nutrients were both gradually resorbed with aging, and organ and age effects depended on the extent of nutrient limitation.
We tested the hypothesis that greater cavitation resistance correlates with less total inter-vessel pit area per vessel (the pit area hypothesis) and evaluated a trade-off between cavitation safety and transport efficiency. Fourteen species of diverse growth form (vine, ring- and diffuse-porous tree, shrub) and family affinity were added to published data predominately from the Rosaceae (29 species total). Two types of vulnerability-to-cavitation curves were found. Ring-porous trees and vines showed an abrupt drop in hydraulic conductivity with increasing negative pressure, whereas hydraulic conductivity in diffuse-porous species generally decreased gradually. The ring-porous type curve was not an artifact of the centrifuge method because it was obtained also with the air-injection technique. A safety versus efficiency trade-off was evident when curves were compared across species: for a given pressure, there was a limited range of optimal vulnerability curves. The pit area hypothesis was supported by a strong relationship (r(2) = 0.77) between increasing cavitation resistance and diminishing pit membrane area per vessel (A(p)). Small Ap was associated with small vessel surface area and hence narrow vessel diameter (D) and short vessel length (L)-consistent with an increase in vessel flow resistance with cavitation resistance. This trade-off was amplified at the tissue level by an increase in xylem/vessel area ratio with cavitation resistance. Ring-porous species were more efficient than diffuse-porous species on a vessel basis but not on a xylem basis owing to higher xylem/vessel area ratios in ring-porous anatomy. Across four orders of magnitude, lumen and end-wall resistivities maintained a relatively tight proportionality with a near-optimal mean of 56% of the total vessel resistivity residing in the end-wall. This was consistent with an underlying scaling of L to D-3/2 across species. Pit flow resistance did not increase with cavitation safety, suggesting that cavitation pressure was not related to mean pit membrane porosity.
The 2007 European larch (Larix decidua Mill.) growing season was monitored along two elevational transects in the Lötschental valley in the Swiss Alps. Phenological observations and weekly microcore sampling of 28 larch trees were conducted between April and October 2007 at seven study sites regularly spaced from 1350 to 2150 m a.s.l. on northwest- and southeast-facing slopes. The developmental stages of nearly 75,000 individual cells assessed on 1200 thin sections were used to investigate the links between the trees' thermal regimes and growth phases including the beginning and ending of cell enlargement, wall thickening and maturation of the stem wood. Needles appeared ~3-4 weeks earlier than stem growth. The duration of ring formation lasted from mid-May to the end of October, with the length of the growing season decreasing along elevation from 137 to 101 days. The onset of the different growing seasons changed by 3-4 days per 100 m elevation; the ending of the growing season, however, appeared minimally related to altitude. If associated with the monitored altitudinal lapse rate of −0.5 °C per 100 m, these results translate into a lengthening of the growing season by ~7 days per degree Celsius. This study provides new data on the timing and duration of basic growth processes and contributes to quantification of the impacts of global warming on tree growth and productivity.
Spring phenology of temperate forest trees is optimized to maximize the length of the growing season while minimizing the risk of freezing damage. The release from winter dormancy is environmentally mediated by species-specific responses to temperature and photoperiod. We investigated the response of early spring phenology to temperature and photoperiod at different stages of dormancy release in cuttings from four temperate tree species in controlled environments. By tracking bud development, we were able to identify the onset of bud swelling and bud growth in Acer pseudoplatanus L., Fagus sylvatica L., Quercus petraea (Mattuschka) Liebl. and Picea abies (L.) H. Karst. At a given early stage of dormancy release, the onset and duration of the bud swelling prior to bud burst are driven by concurrent temperature and photoperiod, while the maximum growth rate is temperature dependent only, except for Fagus, where long photoperiods also increased bud growth rates. Similarly, the later bud burst was controlled by temperature and photoperiod (in the photoperiod sensitive species Fagus, Quercus and Picea). We conclude that photoperiod is involved in the release of dormancy during the ecodormancy phase and may influence bud burst in trees that have experienced sufficient chilling. This study explored and documented the early bud swelling period that precedes and defines later phenological stages such as canopy greening in conventional phenological works. It is the early bud growth resumption that needs to be understood in order to arrive at a causal interpretation and modelling of tree phenology at a large scale. Classic spring phenology events mark visible endpoints of a cascade of processes as evidenced here.