, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 23–35 | Cite as

The influence of climate on the masting behavior of Mexican beech: growth rings and xylem anatomy

  • Ernesto Chanes Rodríguez-Ramírez
  • Teresa Terrazas
  • Isolda Luna-VegaEmail author
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Tree Rings


Key message

The Mexican beech undergoes masting events, on average, every 5.5 years. These events depend directly on precipitation.


Climate change has considerably impacted the protective functions of tropical montane cloud forests, possibly influencing the synchronicity of phenological processes and the distribution and physiology of plants. In particular, climatic fluctuations cause changes in the distribution of tree species. Mexican beech (Fagus grandifolia subsp. mexicana) is considered an endangered species, due to its restricted distribution and its being a Miocene relict, limited to tropical montane cloud forests in the mountains of the Sierra Madre Oriental in eastern Mexico. We analyzed the influence of temperature and precipitation in prompting changes to tree-ring width, as well as vessel frequency and diameter, of Mexican beech in eastern Mexico. We used growth rings and xylem vessels traits to infer the historical masting events of Mexican beech over the last 128 years. We obtained independent chronologies for Mexican beech in each of the studied sites, dating back 152–178 years. Precipitation was strongly associated with differences in tree-ring width between masting and non-masting years. Our study highlights the use of dendroecological research to detect climate-induced modifications in the vessel frequency and diameter of tree species inhabiting tropical montane cloud forests. This association also explained differences in vessel frequency and diameter recorded before, during, and after masting events. Our results revealed that Mexican beech undergoes masting events every 5.5 years on average, and that these events directly depend on minimum annual precipitation. In conclusion, our results advance our understanding on the plasticity of growth rings and vessels traits (frequency and diameter) in response to fluctuation in precipitation.


Climate variables Dendromastecology Fagus grandifolia subsp. mexicana Tropical montane cloud forest Xylem vessels Masting 



We wish to thank Osvaldo Franco-Ramos and Lorenzo Vázquez-Selem for their help with tree-ring measurements and for lending the necessary equipment; Susana Guzmán Gómez and María del Carmen Loyola Blanco (Laboratorio de Microscopía y Fotografía de la Biodiversidad II, Instituto de Biología, UNAM) for technical assistance with the digital photographs; Othón Alcántara-Ayala and Rodrigo Ortega García for their support during field work; Ana Paola Martínez-Falcón for assistance with the statistical analyses; Santiago Ramírez-Barahona and Carlos Solís Hay for his critical observations. This research was financed by the project PAPIIT IN223218. The first author thanks the financial support granted by the postdoctoral fellowship DGAPA-UNAM 2015-2016.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernesto Chanes Rodríguez-Ramírez
    • 1
  • Teresa Terrazas
    • 2
  • Isolda Luna-Vega
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Biogeografía y Sistemática, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Departamento de Botánica, Instituto de BiologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico CityMexico

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