, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 736–742 | Cite as

Climatic signals in tree ring of Picea schrenkiana along an altitudinal gradient in the central Tianshan Mountains, northwestern China

  • Ting Wang
  • Haibao Ren
  • Keping MaEmail author
Original Article


Tree-ring samples of Picea schrenkiana (Fisch. et Mey) were studied along an altitudinal gradient in the central Tianshan Mountains, and ring-width chronologies were developed for three sites at different altitudes: low-forest border (1600–1700 m a.s.l.), interior forest (2100–2200 m a.s.l.), and upper treeline (2600–2700 m a.s.l.). Annual ring-width variations were similar among the three sites but variability was greatest at the low-forest border site. The statistical characters of the chronologies showed that mean sensitivity (MS) and standard deviation (SD) decreased with increasing elevation. In other words, the response of tree growth to environmental changes decreased with increasing altitude. To understand the differing response of trees at different elevations to the environmental changes, response function analysis was used to study the relationships between tree-ring widths and mean monthly temperature and total monthly precipitation from 1961 to 2000. The results showed that precipitation was the most important factor limiting tree radial growth in the arid central Tianshan Mountains, precipitation in August of the prior growth year played an important role on tree's radial growth across the entire altitudinal gradient even at the cold, high-elevation treeline site. It is expected that with increasing altitude air temperature decreased and precipitation increased, the importance of precipitation on tree growth decreased, and the response of tree growth to environmental changes decreased, too. This conclusion may be helpful to understand and research the relationship between climatic change and tree growth in arid and semiarid area.


Picea schrenkiana Tree-ring Altitude gradient Dendroclimatology Treeline 



This study was jointly funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX1-10-05) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC 90102009). We thank Dr Qibin Zhang, Dr Weiguo Sang, Dr Zongqiang Xie, for their suggestions on an early version of the paper. Thanks also to Prof Jin Jiang for his help in the investigating and sampling, to the administrations of Tianchi Nature Reserve for their hospitalities, and to the Institute of Forest Resources Information Techniques, the Chinese Academy of Forestry for supplying the apparatus WinDENDRO. Dr Ruth E. Sherman's help in English improvement of the text is also highly appreciated


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BotanyThe Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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