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Trees

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1225–1238 | Cite as

A tree-ring based comparison of Terminalia superba climate–growth relationships in West and Central Africa

  • Maaike De Ridder
  • Valerie Trouet
  • Jan Van den Bulcke
  • Wannes Hubau
  • Joris Van Acker
  • Hans Beeckman
Original Paper

Abstract

Tropical lowland forests are characterized by humid climate conditions with interannual variations in amount of precipitation, length of dry season, and relative humidity. The African tree species, Terminalia superba Engl. & Diels has a large distribution area and potentially incorporates these variations in its tree rings. Tree ring analysis was performed on 60 plantation trees (increment cores) and 41 natural trees (stem disks) from Ivory Coast and the Congolese Mayombe Forest. Natural forests and old plantations (50–55 years) showed similar growth patterns. Regional chronologies were developed for the two sample regions and showed a long-distance relationship for the period 1959–2008. Growth in the Mayombe was associated with early rainy season precipitation, but no relation was found between tree growth and precipitation in Ivory Coast. Congolese trees possibly show a higher climate-sensitivity than Ivorian trees, because precipitation in the Mayombe is more limiting, and Congolese T. superba trees are found closer to the margins of their distribution. Likewise, tree growth in the Mayombe was also influenced by the SSTs of the Gulf of Guinea and the South Atlantic Ocean during the early rainy season. However, tree growth was influenced by ENSO in both regions. In the Mayombe, La Niña years were associated with stronger tree growth whereas in Ivory Coast, El Niño years corresponded with stronger tree growth. The presented relation between ENSO, precipitation and tree growth is original for equatorial African forests, suggesting an influence of global climate variability on tree growth.

Keywords

Africa Dendroclimatology ENSO Sea surface temperature Tree rings Tropical forest 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research project is funded by a PhD grant (M. De Ridder) of the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR). The fieldwork in Ivory Coast was supported by a grant from the King Leopold III Fund for Nature Exploration and Conservation and the Congolese fieldwork was possible with the help of a grant from VLIR. We are indebted to the Special Research Fund of Ghent University for financing the PhD project of W. Hubau. We would also like to thank the teams of WWF DRC, WWF Belgium, Soforma, the ERAIFT (École Régionale post-universitaire d’Aménagement et de gestion Intégrés des Forêts et Territoires tropicaux), Thanry and Bomaco for their financial support and their guidance throughout the fieldwork. Special thanks goes out to Guy Bayens for all possible help on organizing the Ivory Coast fieldwork and to Laurent Nsenga, Geert Lejeune, Bruno Pérodeau and Prof. Shango Mutambwe, whose efforts were indispensable for the success of the field campaigns in the DRC. Also a warm thank you to the local crew who guided us through the forests of West and Central Africa.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maaike De Ridder
    • 1
    • 2
  • Valerie Trouet
    • 3
  • Jan Van den Bulcke
    • 1
  • Wannes Hubau
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joris Van Acker
    • 1
  • Hans Beeckman
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Wood Technology, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory for Wood Biology and XylariumRoyal Museum for Central AfricaTervurenBelgium
  3. 3.Laboratory of Tree Ring ResearchUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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