Comparison of tree-ring growth and eddy covariance-based ecosystem productivities in three different-aged pine plantation forests

Abstract

Key message

This study utilized dendrochronology and long-term (2003–2017) eddy covariance (EC) carbon flux data to investigate the relationships between tree growth and gross ecosystem productivity (GEPEC) in different-age (15-, 42- and 78-year old) pine plantation forests in the Great Lakes region in eastern North America and found that tree-ring growth in these different-age pine forests was significantly (p < 0.05) correlated with observed annual GEPEC values.

Abstract

Forests play a major role in the global carbon cycle. Understanding the dynamics of the forest carbon cycle and its driving factors is challenging. This study utilized dendrochronology and long-term (2003–2017) eddy covariance (EC) carbon flux data to investigate the relationships between tree growth and gross and net ecosystem productivities (GEPEC and NEPEC) in different-age (15-, 42- and 78-year old) pine plantation forests in the Great Lakes region in eastern North America. Tree growth in these different-age pine forests was significantly (p < 0.05) correlated with observed annual GEPEC values, while coherence between tree growth and NEPEC was relatively poor. Current-year and 1-year lagged ring-width chronologies and climate variables, including spring (April–May) temperature (TSPR) and Standardized Potential Evapotranspiration Index (SPEISUM) over the summer months (June–August) were used to test ten different linear regression models to simulate tree-ring-based GEP (GEPTR) values at all three sites. This analysis showed that current-year growth was the best predictor of GEPTR at all three sites, when compared to observed GEPEC, except during drought years, when GEPTR was underestimated. Current-year tree growth models were then used to reconstruct GEPTR over the life span of each stand. These reconstructions showed low GEPTR values from 1978 to 1988 and from 2002 to 2007. Low GEPTR in late 1970s occurred in response to below average temperatures when there were no major drought periods, while low GEPTR in early 2000s occurred following drought-like conditions in 2002. However, in recent years relatively higher GEPTR was observed at all three different-age forest sites. This interdisciplinary study will help to improve our understanding of carbon exchanges and the key environmental controls and associated uncertainties on tree growth in these different-age plantation stands in eastern North America. It will also help to determine how these forests may respond to climate change.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, the Global Water Futures (GWF) initiative and Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) through grants awarded to M. Altaf Arain. In-kind support from the Canadian Foundation of Innovation (CFI), the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), McMaster University, and the McMaster Centre for Climate Change is also acknowledged. The authors also thank OMNRF for providing access to the TP39 and TP74 sites and Bruce Whitside and family for providing access to the TP02 site. This research was not possible without this support. The 14-year partnership between the St. Williams Conservation Reserve Community Council (SWCRCC) and the Turkey Point Flux Station team is deeply appreciated. Thanks to Matthias Peichl and Michelle Kula for access to sample archives and biometrics information for the site. Additional thanks to Felix Chan for assistance with sample preparation and to Myroslava Khomik, Eric Beamsderfer, Robin Thorne, Joshua McLaren, Rachel Skubel, Natalia Restrepo-Coupe, Jason Brodeur for assistance in eddy covariance data collection and analysis. We thank Steve Williams, Ken Elliott, Bill Parker, Ron Drabick, Jeffrey Pickersgill (OMNRF), Chris Charron, Aaron Todd (OMNRF) and Audrey Heagy (SWCRCC) for their advice, help and support over the past so many years.

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McKenzie, S.M., Pisaric, M.F.J. & Arain, M.A. Comparison of tree-ring growth and eddy covariance-based ecosystem productivities in three different-aged pine plantation forests. Trees (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-020-02061-z

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Keywords

  • Dendrochronology
  • Tree-rings
  • Eddy covariance
  • Gross ecosystem productivity
  • Net ecosystem productivity
  • Temperate forest
  • Forest carbon cycle