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Climate responses of ring widths and radial growth phenology of Betula ermanii, Fagus crenata and Quercus crispula in a cool temperate forest in central Japan


Key message

Climate responses of radial growth of major hardwood species growing in a cool temperate forest in Japan were clarified by dendrochronological analysis combining the phenology observation of radial growth.


To better understand which climate factors limit the radial growth of major hardwood species growing in a cool temperate forest in Japan, we clarified the phenology of radial growth and developed ring width residual chronologies for Betula ermanii, Fagus crenata and Quercus crispula at Takayama, an LTER research site located in central Japan. We inspected stem tissue for division of cambial cells in the early stage of wood formation and examined the cumulative radial growth by the wounding method. The onset of cambial cell division in Q. crispula was observed to be about 2 weeks earlier than in the other species. Wood formation in the final part of the tree ring occurred approximately 1 month earlier in B. ermanii than in the other species. The correlation analysis was performed between chronologies and moving averages of 31-day climate data with a 1-day lag. The periods which revealed significant correlations with climate factors were categorized into the previous growing season, previous autumn, just before the current growing season and current growing season according to their characteristic responses and the phenology of wood formation and leaves. The negative correlations between ring width of all the species and mean and minimum temperatures of previous year’s autumn, when the growth ending of ring width and leaf coloring occurred, suggested that temperature may have affected the respiration rate and/or prolonged the start of leaf fall, resulting in variations of radial growth through the consumption of photosynthetic products. On the other hand, different responses to climate were observed among species during the other phenological periods.

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We thank Dr. Yoshitake and Prof. Tamagawa at River Basin Research Center, Gifu University for their support of the field investigations and provision of meteorological data (http://www.green.gifu-u.ac.jp/takayama/), and also Dr. Nagai at JAMSTEC and the PEN project (http://www.pheno-eye.org) for the canopy photographs. We also thank Dr. H. Kobayashi at Shinshu University for helpful comments and support with the knife marking analysis. We thank Dr. Fujiwara, Dr. Yamashita, and Dr. Kuroda at FFPRI for their help with the X-ray analysis. Part of this study was supported by MEXT/JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP 23380097 and by a Joint Usage/Research Grant from the River Basin Research Center 2016-G007, 2017-G008 and 2018-G002, Gifu University.

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Shen, Y., Fukatsu, E., Muraoka, H. et al. Climate responses of ring widths and radial growth phenology of Betula ermanii, Fagus crenata and Quercus crispula in a cool temperate forest in central Japan. Trees (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-019-01948-w

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  • Dendrochronology
  • Radial growth
  • Wood formation phenology
  • Climate response