Plant Ecology

, Volume 216, Issue 7, pp 913–923 | Cite as

Piñon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.) growth responses to climate and substrate in southern Utah, U.S.A.

  • Nichole N. BargerEmail author
  • Connie Woodhouse


Piñon pines (Pinus edulis Engelm.) are a widely distributed species across the western United States (U.S.) providing habitat for wildlife species in addition to forest products for humans. Thus, understanding factors that promote the productivity of this species is important to predict future responses to environmental change. We examined piñon pine growth from tree-ring records and evaluated whether growth responses to climate may be explained by local site characteristics such as geologic substrate from the late 1900s through the early 2000s. Cluster analysis revealed two distinct clusters that differed in their growth response (i.e., tree-ring width) to July temperature of the current growing season (cluster 1, r = −0.45; cluster 2, r = −0.31). Clusters 1 and 2 displayed synchronous growth throughout the early to mid-twentieth century but growth patterns diverged in the 1970s. Ring widths in cluster 1, which were most sensitive to average July temperature, showed a downward trend in the 1970s through the 2000s. By contrast, cluster 2 growth showed positive growth responses during the 1980s followed by growth declines during the multi-year drought of the 1990s. There was evidence that these growth patterns may be partially explained by geologic substrate (i.e., shale, sandstone, alluvial fan). Pearson’s r values of tree growth over time were strongly negative on shales and sandstones (r = −0.30, P = 0.009; r = −0.34, P = 0.003), whereas those on alluvial fans were not significant (r = 0.13, P = 0.23). Reported values of soil available water capacity on the shale and sandstone substrates are low relative to the alluvial fans, which may partially explain the differential growth responses. Our findings suggest that consideration of increasing summer temperatures on low availability water capacity geologic substrates may be important in predicting future piñon pine growth declines.


Climate Tree growth Soil water Piñon pine Tree ring 



We would like to thank Henry Adams for his extensive help in collections and analysis of the tree core data and Dan Fernandez with mapping support. Sampling of the NMM and DS sites was supported by a National Parks Ecological Research Fellowship to Barger and NASA North American Carbon Program Grant (NACP-Asner-01). We would also like to acknowledge the critical feedback from Peter Brown, Jan Wunder, and an anonymous reviewer.

Supplementary material

11258_2015_478_MOESM1_ESM.tiff (2.6 mb)
Sample depth in the cluster analysis and across the three substrate types (TIFF 2703 kb)
11258_2015_478_MOESM2_ESM.tiff (2.6 mb)
Tree-ring width changes over time in a cluster 1 and b cluster 2. Tree-ring width index values are graphed as a 5-year moving average to smooth the high-frequency variability in the data (black lines). Gray areas are 95 % confidence intervals (TIFF 2703 kb)


  1. Adams HD, Kolb TE (2004) Drought responses of conifers in ecotone forests of northern Arizona: tree-ring growth and leaf delta 13C. Ecologies 140:217–225Google Scholar
  2. Adams HD, Kolb TE (2005) Tree growth response to drought and temperature in a mountain landscape in northern Arizona, USA. J Biogeogr 32:1629–1640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adams HD, Guardiola-Claramonte M, Barron-Gafford GA, Villegas JC, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Troch PA, Huxman TE (2009) Temperature sensitivity of drought-induced tree mortality portends increased regional die-off under global-change-type drought. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:7063–7066PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allen CD et al (2010) A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risk for forests. For Ecol Manage 259:660–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barger NN, Adams HD, Woodhouse C, Neff JC, Asner GP (2009) Influence of livestock grazing and climate on piñon pine (Pinus edulis) dynamics. Rangel Ecol Manag 62:531–539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beaudette D, O’Green A (2009) Soil-Web: an online soil survey for California, Arizona, and Nevada. Comput Geosci 35:2119–2128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boisvenue C, Running SW (2006) Impacts of climate change on natural forest productivity: evidence since the middle of the 20th century. Glob Change Biol 12:862–882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Breshears DD, Allen CD (2002) The importance of rapid, disturbance-induced losses in carbon management and sequestration. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 11:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Breshears DD et al (2005) Regional vegetation die-off in response to global-change-type drought. Proc Natl Acad Sci 102:15144–15148PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Breshears DD, Myers OB, Meyer CW, Barnes FJ, Zou CB, Allen CD, McDowell NG, Pockman WT (2009) Tree die-off in response to global change-type drought: mortality insights from a decade of plant water potential measurements. Front Ecol Environ 7:185–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cook E (1985) A time series analysis approach to tree-ring standardization. Dissertation, University of Arizona, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  12. Daly C, Halbleib M, Smith JI, Gibson WP, Doggett MK, Taylor GH, Curtis J, Pasteris PA (2008) Physiographically-sensitive mapping of temperature and precipitation across the conterminous United States. Int J Climatol 28:2031–2064. doi: 10.1002/joc.1688 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Feng X (1999) Trends in intrinsic water-use efficiency of natural trees for the past 100-200 years: a response to atmospheric CO2 concentration. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 63:1891–1903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fritts H (1976) Tree-rings and climate. The Blackburn Press, CaldwellGoogle Scholar
  15. Fritts HC, Smith DG, Cardis JW, Budelsky CA (1965) Tree-ring characteristics along a vegetation gradient in Northern Arizona. Ecology 46:394–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grow DE (2002) Effects of substrate on dendrochronologic streamflow reconstruction: Paria River, Utah; with fractal application to dendrochronology. Dissertation, The University of Arizona, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  17. Grow DE (2003) Substrate and dendrochronologic streamflow reconstruction. In: Renard KG, McElroy SA, Gburek WJ, Canfield HE, Scott editors RL (eds) Proceedings of the first interagency conference on research in the watersheds, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Benson, pp 492–496, 27–30 Oct 2003Google Scholar
  18. Huang J, Bergeron Y, Denneler B, Berninger F, Tardif J (2007) Response of forest trees to increased atmospheric CO2. Crit Rev Plant Sci 26:265–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: synthesis report. In: Pachauri RK, Reisinger A (eds) Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, IPCC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  20. Jansma E, Brewer PW, Zandhuis I (2010) TRiDaS 1.1: the tree-ring data standard. Dendrochronologia 28(2):99–130. doi: 10.1016/j.dendro.2009.06.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kempes CP, Myers OB, Breshears DD, Ebersole JJ (2008) Comparing response of Pinus edulis tree-ring growth to five alternate moisture indices using historic meteorological data. J Arid Environ 72:350–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Knapp PA, Soule PT (2001) Detecting potential regional effects of increased atmospheric CO2 on growth rates of western juniper. Glob Change Biol 7:903–917CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Knutson KC, Pyke DA (2008) Western juniper and ponderosa pine ecotonal climate-growth relationships across landscape gradients in sourthern Oregon. Can J For Res 38:3021–3032CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Koepke DF, Kolb TE, Adams HD (2010) Variation in woody plant mortality and dieback from severe drought among soils, plant groups, and species within a northern Arizona ecotone. Oecologia 163:1079–1090PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Linton MJ, Sperry JS, Williams DG (1998) Limits to water transport in Juniperus osteosperma and Pinus edulis: implications for drought tolerance and regulation of transpiration. Funct Ecol 12:906–911CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Macalady AK, Bugmann H (2014) Growth-mortality relationships in piñon pine (Pinus edulis) during severe droughts of the past century: shifting processes in space and time. PLoS One 9(5):e92770. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092770 PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McDowell N et al (2008) Mechanisms of plant survival and mortality during drought: why do some plants survive while others succumb to drought? New Phytol 178:719–739PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McDowell N et al (2013) Evaluating theories of drought-induced vegetation mortality using a multimodel: experiment framework. New Phytol 200:304–321. doi: 10.1111/nph.12465 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. NOAA National Climate Data Center (2013a) NOAA paleoclimatology database.
  30. NOAA National Climate Data Center (2013b) NOAA NCDC climate database.
  31. Ogle K, Whitham TG, Cobb NS (2000) Tree-ring variation in pinyon predicts likelihood of death following severe drought. Ecology 81:3237–3243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Peterman W, Waring RH, Seager T, Pollock WL (2012) Soil properties affect pinyon pine: juniper response to drought. Ecohydrology 6:455–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Seager R et al (2007) Model projections of an imminent transition to a more arid climate in southwestern North America. Science 316:1181–1184PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Stokes MA, Smiley T (1968) An introduction to tree-ring dating. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  35. van Mantgem PJ et al (2009) Widespread increase of tree mortality rates in the western United States. Science 323:521–524PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. West NE (1999) Distribution, composition, and classification of current juniper-pinyon woodlands and savannas across Western North America. In: Proceedings of the conference on Ecology and Management of Pinyon-Juniper Communities within the Interior West, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, pp 20–23Google Scholar
  37. West AG, Hultine KR, Burtch KG, Ehleringer JR (2007) Seasonal variations in moisture use in a pinyon-juniper woodland. Oecologia 153:787–798PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Western Regional Climate Center (2013) WRCC climate database.
  39. Williams DG, Ehleringer JR (2000) Intra- and interspecific variation for summer precipitation use in pinyon-juniper woodlands. Ecol Monogr 70:517–537Google Scholar
  40. Williams AP, Allen CD, Millar CI, Swetnam TW, Michaelsen J, Still CJ, Leavitt SW (2010) Forest responses to increasing aridity and warmth in the southwestern United States. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107:21289–21294PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Williams AP et al (2012) Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality. Nat Clim Change 3:292–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wilmking M, Juday GP, Barber VA, Zald HSJ (2004) Recent climate warming forces contrasting growth responses of white spruce and treeline in Alaska through temperature thresholds. Glob Change Biol 10:1724–1736CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Regional DevelopmentUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations