, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 153–161 | Cite as

Short-term growth responses and associated wood density fluctuations in variously irrigated Eucalyptus globulus

  • David M. Drew
  • Geoffrey M. Downes
  • Robert Evans
Original Paper


Cambial growth and wood properties respond to fluctuating environmental conditions. Understanding the nature of these responses is crucial to understanding their cumulative effect on the wood quality characteristics of a forest stand. This paper reports on a study conducted over a period of 3½ years in continuously irrigated, alternately irrigated and non-irrigated Eucalyptus globulus, in which changes in wood density occurring in response to short-term growth responses were examined. The study showed that continuous irrigation led to the production of wood with significantly more homogenous density than was the case in situations, where trees experienced large fluctuations in temporal water availability. Although the trees which were not irrigated had the highest wood density overall, trees in which growth was relatively continuous tended to produce the largest volumes of wood with relatively high density, compared to trees in which periodic growth responses were caused by intermittent irrigation, in which wood density was actually reduced. This was largely due to more growth days in summer under the conditions of higher radiation, and a reduction in the number of growth events leading to the production of disproportionately large amounts of low density wood. Soil water deficits contributed to density variation in all treatments, but the effect of energy limitations became more important in continuously irrigated trees.


Wood density Pulse-type growth responses Drought effects Blue gum 


  1. Bernard M (2003) Eucalyptus: a strategic species for forests. Rev For Fr 55(2):141–154Google Scholar
  2. Berta M, Giovannelli A, Sebastiani F, Camussi A, Racchi ML (2010) Transcriptome changes in the cambial region of poplar (Populus alba L.) in response to water deficit. Plant Biol 12:341–354PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burgess SSO (2008) Taking the pulse of the land. Plant Soil 305:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Downes GM, Beadle C, Worledge D (1999) Daily stem growth patterns in irrigated Eucalyptus globulus and E. nitens in relation to climate. Trees 14:102–111Google Scholar
  5. Downes GM, Drew DM, Battaglia M, Schulze ED (2008) Measuring and modelling stem growth and wood formation: an overview. Dendrochronologia 27(2):147–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Downes GM, Hudson I, Raymond CA, Dean GH, Michell AJ, Schimleck LR, Evans R, Muneri A (1997) Sampling plantation eucalypts for wood and fibre properties. CSIRO Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  7. Drew DM, Downes GM (2009) The use of precision dendrometers in research on daily stem size and wood property variation: a review. Dendrochronologia 27:159–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Drew DM, Downes GM, Battaglia M (2010) CAMBIUM, a process-based model of daily xylem development in Eucalyptus. J Theor Biol 264(2):395–406PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Drew DM, Downes GM, Grzeskowiak V, Naidoo T (2009) Differences in daily stem size variation and growth in two hybrid eucalypt clones. Trees 23:585–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Drew DM, O’Grady AP, Downes GM, Read J, Worledge D (2008) Daily patterns of stem size variation in irrigated and non-irrigated Eucalyptus globulus. Tree Physiol 28:1573–1581PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Drew DM, Pammenter NW (2006) Vessel frequency, size and arrangement in two eucalypt clones growing at sites differing in water availability. N Z J For 51(3):23–28Google Scholar
  12. Evans R, Downes GM, Menz D, Stringer S (1995) Rapid measurement of variation in tracheid transverse dimensions in a radiata pine tree. Appita J 48:134–138Google Scholar
  13. Evans R, Ilic J (2001) Rapid prediction of wood stiffness from microfibril angle and density. Forest Prod J 51(3):53–57Google Scholar
  14. Fritts HC (1976) Tree rings and climate. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Groover A, Jones AM (1999) Tracheary element differentiation uses a novel mechanism coordinating programmed cell death and secondary cell wall synthesis. Plant Physiol 119:375–384PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Larson P (1994) The vascular cambium: development and structure. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Malan FS, Male JR, Venter JSM (1994) Relationship between the properties of eucalypt wood and some chemical, pulp and paper properties. Pap South Afr 2:6–16Google Scholar
  18. Morgan HD, Barton CVM (2008) Forest-scale sap flux responses to rainfall in a dryland Eucalyptus plantation. Plant Soil 305:131–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Myburg A, Bradfield J, Cowley E, Creux N, de Castro M, Hatherell TL, Mphahlele M, O’Neill M, Ranik M, Solomon L, Victor M, Zhou H, Galloway G, Horsley T, Jones N, Stanger T, Bayley A, Edwards N, Janse B (2008) Forest and fibre genomics: biotechnology tools for applied tree improvement. South For J For Sci 70(2):59–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. O’Grady AP, Worledge D, Battaglia M (2008) Constraints on transpiration of Eucalyptus globulus in southern Tasmania, Australia. Agric For Meteorol 148:453–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ridoutt BG, Sands R (1994) Quantification of the processes of secondary xylem fibre development in Eucalyptus globulus at two height levels. IAWA J 15(4):417–424Google Scholar
  22. Roderick ML, Berry SL (2001) Linking wood density with tree growth and environment: a theoretical analysis based on the motion of water. New Phytol 149:473–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schimleck L, Michell AJ, Raymond CA, Muneri A (1999) Estimation of basic density of Eucalyptus globulus using near-infrared spectroscopy. Can J For Res 29(2):194–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Searson MJ, Thomas DS, Montagu KD, Conroy JP (2004) Wood density and anatomy of water-limited eucalypts. Tree Physiol 24:1295–1302PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Shallhorn PM, Heinze HU (1997) Hardwood vessel picking in the offset printing of uncoated fine papers. Pulp Pap Can 98(10):21–24Google Scholar
  26. Thomas DS, Montagu KD, Conroy JP (2007) Temperature effects on wood anatomy, wood density, photosynthesis and biomass partitioning of Eucalyptus grandis seedlings. Tree Physiol 27(2):251–260PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. White DA, Beadle C, Sands PJ, Worledge D, Honeysett J (1999) Quantifying the effect of cumulative water stress on stomatal conductance of Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus nitens: a phenomenological approach. Aust J Plant Physiol 26:17–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wimmer R, Downes GM, Evans R (2002a) High-resolution analysis of radial growth and wood density in Eucalyptus nitens, grown under different irrigation regimes. Ann For Sci 59:519–524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wimmer R, Downes GM, Evans R, Rasmussen G, French J (2002b) Direct effects of wood characteristics on pulp and handsheet properties of Eucalyptus globulus. Holzforschung 56:244–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Zobel BJ, Jett JB (1995) Genetics of wood production. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Rights of Australia 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Drew
    • 1
  • Geoffrey M. Downes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert Evans
    • 3
  1. 1.CSIRO Ecosystem SciencesHobartAustralia
  2. 2.CRC for ForestryHobartAustralia
  3. 3.CSIRO Materials Science and EngineeringClaytonAustralia

Personalised recommendations