Do variations in leaf phenology affect radial growth variations in Fagus sylvatica?
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We used a dendrochronological and leaf phenology network of European beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Slovenia, a transitional area between Mediterranean, Alpine and continental climatic regimes, for the period 1955–2007 to test whether year to year variations in leaf unfolding and canopy duration (i.e. time between leaf unfolding and colouring) influence radial growth (annual xylem production and tree ring widths) and if such influences are more pronounced at higher altitudes. We showed that variability in leaf phenology has no significant effect on variations in radial growth. The results are consistent in the entire region, irrespective of the climatic regime or altitude, although previous studies have shown that leaf phenology and tree ring variation depend on altitude. The lack of relationship between year to year variability in leaf phenology and radial growth may suggest that earlier leaf unfolding—as observed in a previous study—probably does not cause increased tree growth rates in beech in Slovenia.
KeywordsClimate change Leaf phenology Tree rings European beech
Climatic and phenological data were provided by the Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia (ARSO) within the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning. The work was supported by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS), programmes P4-0015 and P4-0085 and by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, project ELENA (CGL2012-31668). The cooperation among the international partners was supported by the COST Action FP1106, STReESS. We thank Martin Cregeen for language editing.
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