, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 1423–1437 | Cite as

Minimum wood density of conifers portrays changes in early season precipitation at dry and cold Eurasian regions

  • J. Julio CamareroEmail author
  • Laura Fernández-Pérez
  • Alexander V. Kirdyanov
  • Tatiana A. Shestakova
  • Anastasia A. Knorre
  • Vladimir V. Kukarskih
  • Jordi Voltas
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Drought Stress


Key message

Minimum wood density exhibits strong responses to precipitation and, thus, it is a robust proxy of early season water availability.


Tracheids fulfil most wood functions in conifers (mechanical support and water transport) and earlywood tracheids account for most hydraulic conductivity within the annual tree ring. Dry conditions during the early growing season, when earlywood is formed, could lead to the formation of narrow tracheid lumens and a dense earlywood. Here, we assessed if there is a negative association between minimum wood density and early growing-season (spring) precipitation. Using dendrochronology, we studied growth and density data at nine forest stands of three Pinaceae species (Larix sibirica, Pinus nigra, and Pinus sylvestris) widely distributed in three cool–dry Eurasian regions from the forest-steppe (Russia, Mongolia) and Mediterranean (Spain) biomes. We measured for each annual tree ring and the common 1950–2002 period the following variables: earlywood and latewood width, and minimum and maximum wood density. As expected, dry early growing season (spring) conditions were associated with low earlywood production but, most importantly, to high minimum density in the three conifer species. The associations between minimum density and spring precipitation were stronger (r = −0.65) than those observed with earlywood width (r = 0.57). We interpret the relationship between spring water availability and high minimum density as a drought-induced reduction in lumen diameter, hydraulic conductivity, and growth. Consequently, forecasted growing-season drier conditions would translate into increased minimum wood density and reflect a reduction in hydraulic conductivity, radial growth, and wood formation. Given the case-study-like nature of this work, more research on other cold–dry sites with additional conifer species is needed to test if minimum wood density is a robust proxy of early season water availability.


Black pine Scots pine Siberian larch Dendroecology Water availability Wood density 



We acknowledge the support of Spanish Ministry of Economy Projects (Fundiver, CGL2015-69186-C2-1-R). Tree-ring density data were obtained and analysed under support of Russian Science Foundation (Project 14-14-00295).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

468_2017_1559_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15116 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Julio Camarero
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura Fernández-Pérez
    • 2
  • Alexander V. Kirdyanov
    • 3
    • 4
  • Tatiana A. Shestakova
    • 5
  • Anastasia A. Knorre
    • 6
  • Vladimir V. Kukarskih
    • 7
  • Jordi Voltas
    • 8
  1. 1.Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE-CSIC)SaragossaSpain
  2. 2.Forest Ecology and Restoration Group, Department of Life SciencesUniversity of AlcaláMadridSpain
  3. 3.Sukachev Institute of Forest SB RASKrasnoyarskRussia
  4. 4.Institute of Ecology and GeographySiberian Federal UniversityKrasnoyarskRussia
  5. 5.Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental SciencesUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Department of ForestrySiberian Federal UniversityKrasnoyarskRussia
  7. 7.Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology SD RASYekaterinburgRussia
  8. 8.Department of Crop and Forest Sciences-AGROTECNIO CenterUniversitat de LleidaLleidaSpain

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