Larix olgensis growth–climate response between lower and upper elevation limits: an intensive study along the eastern slope of the Changbai Mountains, northeastern China
Larix olgensis is a dominant tree species in the forest ecosystems of the Changbai Mountains of northeast China. To assess the growth response of this species to global climate change, we developed three tree-ring width and biomass chronologies across a range of elevations in the subalpine forests on the eastern slope of the Changbai Mountains. We used dendroclimatic analyses to study key factors limiting radial growth in L. olgensis and its variation with elevation. The statistical characteristics of chronologies suggested that elevation is a determinant of tree growth patterns in the study area. Response function analysis of chronologies with climate factors indicated that climate–growth relationships changed with increasing elevation: tree growth at high elevation was strongly limited by June temperatures of the previous year, and as elevation decreases, the importance of temperature decreased; tree radial growth at mid-elevation was mainly controlled by precipitation towards the end of the growing season of the current year. Biomass chronologies reflected a stronger climatic signal than tree-ring width chronologies. Spatial correlation with gridded climate data revealed that our chronologies contained a strong regional temperature signal for northeast China. Trees growing below timberline appeared to be more sensitive to climate, thus optimal sites for examining growth trends as a function of climate variation are considered to be just below timberline. Our study objective was to provide information for more accurate prediction of the growth response of L. olgensis to future climate change on the eastern slope of the Changbai Mountains, and to provide information for future climate reconstructions using this tree species in humid and semi humid regions.
KeywordsTree-ring width Dendrochronology Changbai Mountains Elevation gradient Timberline Larix olgensis
Authors express their thanks to Sher Shah, Qianqian Xu, Guochun Zhang, Junlong Yang, and Wenhui Liu for their help with field sampling and core measurement. Authors also thank the reviewers for their diligence in providing useful comments that improved this work.
Jian Yu and Qijing Liu conceived the idea; Jian Yu and Qijing Liu sampled the tree cores and measured the tree-ring widths; Jian Yu conducted the analysis and wrote the manuscript.
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