Retrospective analysis of tree architecture in silver fir (Abies alba Mill.): ontogenetic trends and responses to environmental variability
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Understanding the effects of exogenous factors on tree development is of major importance in the current context of global change. Assessing the structure development of trees is difficult given that they are large and complex organisms with lifespan of several decades.
We used a retrospective analysis to derive the ontogenetic trends in silver fir development and assess the effects of climate or light environment on tree architecture.
Thanks to the identification of relevant growth markers (bud cataphylls and pseudo-whorl branches), a retrospective analysis allowed to record annual shoot extension and to date them on silver firs of various sizes under different environmental conditions.
The length of successive annual shoots located on different axes clearly show gradual trends related to the physiological age of meristems. Within- and between-tree variations are noted due to the plasticity of development and growth induced by light environment and climate.
Retrospective analysis is an efficient method for getting information on the history of trees architecture and subsequently to relate it to environmental factors.
KeywordsMorphological markers A posteriori approach Tree development Phenotypic plasticity Morphogenetic gradient
The authors are grateful to Pierre Cretin-Maitenaz, Michäel Guéroult and URFM technical team for their help in collecting field data, to MéteoFrance for providing meteorological data, to François de Coligny, the handling editor and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments that led to an improvement in the presentation of this paper.
OT was funded by a French Ministry of Research PhD grant.
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