Climate-growth relationships of subalpine fir (Abies fargesii) across the altitudinal range in the Shennongjia Mountains, central China
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Dendroecological techniques were employed to explore the growth response of subalpine fir (Abies fargesii) to climatic conditions across its altitudinal range in both the north and south aspects in the Shennongjia Mountains, central China. Correlation function analyses indicated that temperatures in current summer were significantly negatively correlated with fir radial growth at the lower limits, while temperatures in previous autumn and in current spring showed significantly positive correlations with fir radial growth at the mid- and high-elevations in both aspects. Radial growth of the subalpine fir was significantly and positively influenced by precipitation in previous autumn and in current spring at the lower elevations and by precipitation in current spring at the mid-elevations, while precipitation had no significant effects on its radial growth at the upper elevations. Moving correlation functions showed that temperatures in early spring of the current year (i.e., February-April) had a relatively stable effect on tree growth over time at the mid- and upper-elevations in both aspects. Thus, the growth of the subalpine fir responded differently to climatic conditions along the altitudinal gradient, showing that the importance of temperatures for the fir radial growth increased while the importance of precipitation decreased with increasing altitude in both aspects in the Shennongjia Mountains, central China.