J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2006, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (3): -.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2006.00158.x

• Research Articles •    

Climate Signals from Tree Ring Chronologies of the Upper and Lower Treelines in the Dulan Region of the Northeastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Lu-San Liu, Xue-Mei Shao and Er-Yuan Liang   

Abstract: The radial growth of trees in mountainous areas is subject to environmental conditions associated with changes in elevation. To assess the sensitivity of tree-ring growth to climate variation over a wide range of elevations, we compared the chronological characteristics of Sabina przewalskii Kom. and their relationships with climatic variables at the upper and lower treelines in the Dulan region of the northeastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. It was found that the radial growth in this region was controlled primarily by precipitation in late spring and early summer (from May to June). In addition, a higher temperature from April to June could intensify drought stress and lead to narrow tree rings. The significant similarity in climate-tree growth relationships at both the upper and lower treelines indicated that tree rings of S. przewalskii in this region are able to provide common regional climate information. However, the chronologies at the lower forest limits showed a higher standard deviation and more significant correlations with climatic factors, suggesting that the radial growth there was more significantly influenced by climate variation. The first principal component of the four chronologies showed a common growth response to local climate. The second principal component showed a contrasting growth response between different sampling sites. The third principal component revealed different growth patterns in response to altitudinal variation. Further analysis indicated that the precipitation in late spring and early summer controlled the growth of S. przewalskii on a regional scale and that other factors, such as microenvironment at the sampling sites, also affected the strength of the climatic response of tree growth.(Author for correspondence.Tel: 010 6485 6495; Fax: 010 6485 1844; E-mail: shaoxm@igsnrr.ac.cn)

Key words: dendroclimatology, dendroecology, Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Sabina przewalskii, treeline.

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