Variability of ray anatomy of Larix gmelinii along a forest productivity gradient in Siberia
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This study provides new data and an alternative framework to the debate of tree carbon economy in a context of increasing stress.
For long-living trees, the resilience in times of stress is directly linked to the amount of accessible reserves. Despite the simplicity of this principle, the understanding of how carbon reserves limit growth and/or induce mortality under global change is still debated. In this study, we quantify how anatomical properties of rays—one of the main container for carbon reserves in tree stems—vary among sites, individuals, and annual rings of Larix gmelinii growing in contrasting sites in Siberia to verify if (1) the ray proportion and anatomical structure is linked to the environment, and/or (2) to changes in other wood tissues. Our observations have highlighted that ray proportion mainly varies among individuals, but little among sites and consecutive annual rings. We also observed that ray size and density scale to the wood structure with a relatively constant ratio of ~2.5 rays per tracheid, independent of site conditions. These results suggest that the functional connection between the anatomy of rays and tracheid is unaffected by environment and highlight the importance of considering allometric relations in ecological comparisons. Comparative studies of long-term trajectory of ray proportion of living and dead trees might unravel observed variability among individuals validating the link between long-term depleted reserves and mortality.
KeywordsTree ring Tree-ring anatomy Rays Ray density Ray height Ray volume Forest decline Carbon starvation
Author contribution statement
PF and GvA have designed the study; AK has sampled the wood material; MT has performed the tree-ring width and anatomical survey under the guidance of PF, GvA and MB; and PF has written the manuscript with the support of all coauthors.
This work profited from discussions and activities within the framework of the COST Action STReESS (COST-FP1106). The authors are thankful for support from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education for Research and Innovation SERI for the C12.0100 grant. MT received a President scholarship from the Ministry of Education in Science of the Russian Federation for a four-month stay at WSL in Switzerland to perform measurements and analysis. AK has sampled the wood material and measured tree-ring width (Russian Science Foundation; project 14-14-00295).
Conflict of interest
The authors confirm that there is no conflict of interest.
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