Growth response to climate and drought in Pinus nigra Arn. trees of different crown classes
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- Martín-Benito, D., Cherubini, P., del Río, M. et al. Trees (2008) 22: 363. doi:10.1007/s00468-007-0191-6
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Tree-ring chronologies were examined to investigate the influence of climate on radial growth of Pinus nigra in southeastern Spain. We addressed whether drought differentially affected the ring-widths of dominant and suppressed trees and if our results supported the hypothesis that, in a Mediterranean climate, suppressed conifer trees suffer greater growth reductions than dominant trees. Climate–growth relationships were analyzed using response and correlation functions, whereas the effect of drought on trees growth was approached by superposed epoch analysis in 10 dry years. A cool, wet autumn and spring, and/or mild winter enhanced radial growth. Latewood was the most sensitive ring section in both kinds of trees and it was primarily influenced by current year precipitations. Earlywood was mostly influenced by climatic conditions previous to the growing season. In general, May was the most influential month. Pinus nigra was shown to be very drought sensitive tree in the study area. Tree-rings in suppressed trees showed lower growth reductions caused by drought than those of dominant trees. However, dominant trees recovered normal growth faster. Dominant trees showed a more plastic response, and suppression appeared to reduce the effect of climate on tree radial growth. Some possible causes for these effects are discussed. Our results support the essential role of the balance between light and moisture limitations for plant development during droughts and show that it is not appropriate to generalize about the way in which suppression affects climate-growth relationship in conifers.