, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 937–948 | Cite as

On the influence of tree size on the climate–growth relationship of New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis): insights from annual, monthly and daily growth patterns

  • Jan Wunder
  • Anthony M. Fowler
  • Edward R. Cook
  • Maryann Pirie
  • Shane P. J. McCloskey
Original Paper


Many tree-ring-based climate reconstructions are based on the assumption that the climate reaction of trees is independent of their size. Here, we test this assumption for New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis), one of the longest tree ring-based proxies for the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The most recent kauri chronology contains a large amount of archaeological material, e.g. timber for which the original tree size is often unknown. We analyzed the climate–growth relationship of different-sized kauri in a pristine forest using different temporal scales, i.e. annually, monthly and daily data on tree growth and climate conditions. Trees of different life stages exhibited approximately the same seasonal growth peaks during austral spring (October and November). The dormancy period overlaps with the period where weekly air temperature maxima are below ca. 17–18 °C, and where the corresponding daily minima are below ca. 8 °C. However, both correlation functions between annual growth and seasonal climate as well as Kalman filter regressions between daily growth and climate conditions suggest an influence of tree size on the climate–growth relationship for kauri. Smaller trees (DBH < 40 cm) contain weaker climate signals than larger trees. Therefore, the precautionary stripping of near-pith material (first 20 cm) from kauri chronologies may result in more uniform responses to climate forcing and thus enhance the reliability of long-term climate reconstructions.


Seasonal growth characteristics Climate–growth relationship Dendroclimatology Dendrochronology Dendrometer bands Kalman filter regression Correlation functions 



We would like to thank Gretel Boswijk, Jürgen Groeneveld and Sebastian Leuzinger for helpful discussions and Peter Crossley, George Perry and Angela Belchior Wunder for their help with the field work. Furthermore, we would like to thank the Editor-in-Chief Ulrich Lüttge and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. The first author acknowledges funding by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNF (post-doctoral fellowship PBEZ2-118902). Financial support for this research was provided by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST contract UOAX0714).

Supplementary material

468_2013_846_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 1809 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Wunder
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anthony M. Fowler
    • 2
  • Edward R. Cook
    • 3
  • Maryann Pirie
    • 2
    • 4
  • Shane P. J. McCloskey
    • 5
  1. 1.Forest Ecology, Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of EnvironmentThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Tree-Ring LaboratoryLamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia UniversityPalisadesUSA
  4. 4.Department of StatisticsThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  5. 5.Centre de Bio-Archéologie et d’Écologie (UNR 5059 CNRS)Institut de Botanique, l’Université de MontpellierMontpellierFrance

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