Plant and Soil

, Volume 443, Issue 1–2, pp 387–399 | Cite as

Lodgepole pine tree-ring growth, Δ13C and the inverse texture effect across a soil chronosequence in glacial till

  • Blake J. OsbornEmail author
  • David G. Williams
Regular Article



Our goal was to better understand tree growth and photosynthetic responses to variations in plant available water and elucidate the role of the inverse texture effect in snow dominated montane forests.


We measured tree ring carbon isotope composition and annual growth over a 31-year record for lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Douglas ex Loudon) growing on three different-aged glacial till surfaces in Wyoming, USA.


Soils of different ages developed on till surfaces from three separate glaciation events were significantly different in clay content and distribution with depth; maximum clay content at depth ranged from 19 to 20% on the two youngest till surfaces, but was as high as 36% on the oldest till surface. Ring growth was lowest at the youngest till sites, and only on these coarse-textured soils was growth positively correlated with annual maximum snow water equivalent (SWEmax). Δ13C was highest for trees at these young till sites, suggesting that hydraulic conductivity and stomatal conductance is comparatively high during growth periods on these coarse-textured soils.


Taken together, we found that age of glacial till and related soil texture differences strongly influenced tree-ring growth and Δ13C response of lodgepole pine to interannual variation in precipitation and drought severity, but responses did not support an inverse texture effect in these semi-arid forest systems.


Dendroecology Stable isotopes Tree growth Pinus contorta Soil texture 



Autocorrelation functions


Analyses of covariance


Analysis of variance


Bull lake


Field capacity


Glacier lakes ecosystem experiment site


partial autocorrelation functions


pre-Bull lake




Palmer drought severity index


Snow water equivalent


Maximum snow water equivalent reached in a given water year


Snow telemetry site


Average growing season temperature


Vapor pressure deficit


Wilting point


Years before present



We thank D. Tinker, P. Copenhaver, L. Huckaby, and D. Legg for their expertise in dendrochronology methods. We are indebted to L. Munn for assistance with identification and attribution of glacial till surfaces. T. Kelleners and B. Ewers provided invaluable expertise on soil physics and plant physiology. Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation (EPS – 1208909) and the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or NASA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecosystem Science and ManagementUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.Colorado Water InstituteFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Department of BotanyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

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