Original Paper

Trees

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1321-1329

Response of regional tree-line forests to climate change: evidence from the northeastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Keyan FangAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (MOE), Center for Arid Environment and Paleoclimate Research (CAEP), Lanzhou UniversityTree-Ring Lab, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
  • , Xiaohua GouAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (MOE), Center for Arid Environment and Paleoclimate Research (CAEP), Lanzhou University Email author 
  • , Fahu ChenAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (MOE), Center for Arid Environment and Paleoclimate Research (CAEP), Lanzhou University
  • , Jianfeng PengAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (MOE), Center for Arid Environment and Paleoclimate Research (CAEP), Lanzhou University
  • , Rosanne D’ArrigoAffiliated withTree-Ring Lab, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
  • , William WrightAffiliated withTree-Ring Lab, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
  • , Mai-He LiAffiliated withTree Physiology Division, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSLMountain Ecology and Hydrology Unit, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment Chinese Academy of Sciences

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Abstract

Tree-ring width and age structure of Juniperus przewalskii (Qilian juniper) forests were analyzed for four tree-line sites in Qilian and Anyemaqen Mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau, to investigate their relationships to climate change. Tree-line growth on Qilian Mountain was mainly limited by temperature at the low-frequency band. However, tree-line growth in the Anyemaqen Mountain was highly correlated with the current growing season temperature at the high-frequency band, and with the previous growing season precipitation at the low-frequency band. A temperature-stressed growth pattern at colder western sites and a moisture-stressed growth pattern at the warm, drier eastern tree-line sites were detected. The number of surviving trees in the tree-line ecotone was not clearly correlated with temperature before the 1900s. An unprecedented rise in the number of trees coincided well with the rapid global warming after the 1900s.

Keywords

Tree ring Age structure Tree-line ecotone Climate–growth relationship Global warming Tree-line dynamics