, Volume 137, Issue 4, pp 512–518 | Cite as

Δ13C and tree-ring width reflect different drought responses in Quercus ilex and Pinus halepensis

  • J. P. Ferrio
  • A. Florit
  • A. Vega
  • L. Serrano
  • J. Voltas


Holm oak (Quercus ilex L.) and Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill) are representative of two different functional types of trees extensively found in the Mediterranean: evergreen sclerophyllous and drought-adapted conifers. The former is considered a partially drought-tolerant species, whereas the latter is a typically drought-avoiding, water-saving species. We postulated that contrasting strategies in response to water deficits in Q. ilex and P. halepensis would lead to a differential sensitivity to changes in water availability. To test this hypothesis, we compared the response of both species in growth rate (measured as radial increments) and intrinsic water use efficiency [WUEi, as inferred from carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) in wood samples] among sites from different provenance regions in NE Spain. We found significant differences in Δ13C and growth among provenance regions, partly explained by contrasting water availability. Wood Δ13C was positively related with precipitation and the ratio between precipitation and potential evapotranspiration (P / E). However, these relationships were stronger in P. halepensis (for P / E, r 2=0.67, P <0.001) than in Q. ilex (r 2=0.42, P <0.01). In addition, radial growth was positively related with precipitation and Δ13C in P. halepensis (r 2=0.32 and r 2=0.35, respectively, P <0.01), but not in Q. ilex. We concluded that P. halepensis was more sensitive than Q. ilex to water availability, showing faster increase in WUEi in response to water stress. We also found that the effect of north/south aspect on Δ13C and growth was site-specific, and unrelated to climatic variables.


Climate Carbon isotope discrimination Water use efficiency Sclerophyllous Conifer 



This work was partly supported by the CICYT grant BTE2001-3421-C02. P.F. has a PhD. fellowship from Generalitat de Catalunya. We thank Instituto Nacional de Meteorología and Confederación Hidrográfica del Ebro for providing meteorological data, and CU-INSTAAR/NOAA-CMDL for air δ13C values. We also thank the gentle collaboration of the Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa, and the forest services from Aragón and Catalunya.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Ferrio
    • 1
  • A. Florit
    • 1
  • A. Vega
    • 1
  • L. Serrano
    • 1
  • J. Voltas
    • 1
  1. 1.Departament de Producció Vegetal i Ciència ForestalE.T.S.E.A—Universitat de LleidaLleidaSpain

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