, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 923–933 | Cite as

Climatic forcing of xylem formation in Qilian juniper on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Minhui He
  • Bao Yang
  • Zhangyong Wang
  • Achim Bräuning
  • Kambiz Pourtahmasi
  • Reza Oladi
Original Article


Key message

Cambial activity of ~100-year-old Qilian juniper trees initiated before the middle of May at an elevation of 3200 m a.s.l.; June and July were the main stem radial increment period. Around the middle of August, all xylem cell differentiation periods are completed. Precipitation or relative humidity is the main limiting factor for tree radial growth on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau.


Previous studies have found that annual tree-ring width series of Qilian juniper (Sabina przewalskii Kom.) in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau (TP) are mostly moisture controlled, irrespective of site elevation. Knowing precisely the cambial growth dynamics during a vegetation period can lead to a better understanding of the climatic factors driving regional tree growth patterns. We observed wood formation with micro-cores taken at weekly intervals from late April to early October 2013, and monitored daily stem radial changes with high-resolution electronic point dendrometers in 30-min intervals. Dormant cambium contained 5–6 cell layers in the cambium zone. Cambial activity initiated before the middle of May in all the monitored trees. About three quarters of the total cell production or radial growth formed during June and July. Lignification of secondary walls of new xylem cells continued from end of May to middle of August. After the middle of August, the cambium entered into the inactive period. Dendrometer measurements confirmed that June and July were the main stem radial increment period. Nonparametric Kendall’s Tau correlations indicate that daily relative humidity and precipitation significantly influence stem growth in May. No obvious relationships were detected in June. In July, significant negative influences of maximum temperature and positive effects of relative humidity prevailed. Overall, growing season precipitation or associated relative humidity is the limiting factor for tree stem radial increments on the intra-annual scale. Our results present a thorough understanding of Qilian juniper xylogenesis and its climate forcing within the whole growing season on the northeastern TP.


Micro-coring method Dendrometer measurements Climate factors Sabina przewalskii Kom Northeastern Tibetan Plateau 



All necessary permits were obtained for the described field studies from the Administration of Gansu Qilian Shan National Nature Reserve. The study was jointly funded by the National Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41325008, 31300412) and the Interdisciplinary Innovation Team project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (29Y329B91). The research was also supported by Chinese Academy of Sciences visiting fellowship for researchers from developing countries (2014FFZA0006) and the CAS/SAFEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams. The authors would like to thank Jie Wang, Jianqi Zhang, Hongyuan Ge, Wen Wang and Hongyi Wang for the maintenance of the field instruments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Minhui He
    • 1
  • Bao Yang
    • 1
  • Zhangyong Wang
    • 1
  • Achim Bräuning
    • 2
  • Kambiz Pourtahmasi
    • 3
  • Reza Oladi
    • 3
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Institute of GeographyFriedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Wood Science and Technology, Faculty of Natural ResourcesUniversity of TehranKarajIran

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