Advertisement

Climatic Change

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 481–509 | Cite as

Spatial and Temporal Variability in the Growth and Climate Response of Treeline Trees in Alaska

  • Andrea H. Lloyd
  • Christopher L. Fastie
Article

Abstract

In this study, we investigated the response of trees growing at the cold margins of the boreal forest to climate variation in the 20th century. Working at eight sites at and near alpine and arctic treeline in three regions in Alaska, we compared tree growth (from measured tree ring-widths) to historical climate data to document how growth has responded to climate variation in the 20th century. We found that there was substantial regional variability in response to climate variation. Contrary to our expectations, we found that after 1950 warmer temperatures were associated with decreased tree growth in all but the wettest region, the Alaska Range. Although tree growth increased from 1900–1950 at almost all sites, significant declines in tree growth were common after 1950 in all but the Alaska Range sites. We also found that there was substantial variability in response to climate variation according to distance to treeline. Inverse growth responses to temperature were more common at sites below the forest margin than at sites at the forest margin. Together, these results suggest that inverse responses to temperature are widespread, affecting even the coldest parts of the boreal forest. Even in such close proximity to treeline, warm temperatures after 1950 have been associated with reduced tree growth. Growth declines were most common in the warmer and drier sites, and thus support the hypothesis that drought-stress may accompany increased warming in the boreal forest.

Keywords

Climate Variation Tree Growth Boreal Forest Warm Temperature Climate Response 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Barber, V., Juday, G. P., and Finney, B.: 2000, ‘Reduced Growth of Alaskan White Spruce in the Twentieth Century from Temperature-Induced Drought Stress’, Nature 405, 668–673.Google Scholar
  2. Black, R. A. and Bliss, L. C.: 1980, ‘Reproductive Ecology of Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P. at Tree Line near Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada’, Ecol. Monogr. 50, 331–354.Google Scholar
  3. Bonan, G., Pollard, D., and Thompson, S. L.: 1992, ‘Effects of Boreal Forest Vegetation on Global Climate’, Nature 359, 716–718.Google Scholar
  4. Briffa, K. F., Schweingruber, F., Jones, P., Osborn, T., Harris, I., Shiyatov, S., Vaganov, E., and Grudd, H.: 1998a, ‘Trees Tell of Past Climates: But Are They Speaking Less Clearly Today?’ Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London B 353, 65–73.Google Scholar
  5. Briffa, K., Schweingruber, F., Jones, P., Osborn, T., Shiyatov, S., and Vaganov, E.: 1998b, ‘Reduced Sensitivity of Recent Tree-Growth to Temperature at High Northern Latitudes’, Nature 391, 678–682.Google Scholar
  6. Casper, B. B. and Jackson, R. B.: 1997, ‘Plant Competition Underground’, Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 28, 545–570.Google Scholar
  7. Chapin, F. S.: 1983, ‘Direct and Indirect Effects of Temperature on Arctic Plants’, Polar Biol. 2, 47–52.Google Scholar
  8. Chapin, F. S., Eugster, W., McFadden, J. P., Lynch, A. H., and Walker, D. A.: 2000, ‘Summer Differences among Arctic Ecosystems in Regional Climate Forcing’, J. Climate 13, 2002–2010.Google Scholar
  9. Chapin, F. S., Shaver, G., Giblin, A., Nadelhoffer, K., and Laundre, J.: 1995, ‘Responses of Arctic Tundra to Experimental and Observed Changes in Climate’, Ecology 76, 694–711.Google Scholar
  10. Chapman, W. L. and Walsh, J. E.: 1993, ‘Recent Variations of Sea Ice and Air Temperature in High Latitudes’, Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. 74, 33–47.Google Scholar
  11. D'Arrigo, R. D. and Jacoby, G. C.: 1993, ‘Secular Trends in High Northern Latitude Temperature Reconstructions Based on Tree Rings’, Clim. Change 25, 163–177.Google Scholar
  12. Dixon, R. K., Brown, S., Houghton, R. A., Solomon, A. M., Trexler, M. C., and Wisniewski, J.: 1994, ‘Carbon Pools and Flux of Global Forest Ecosystems’, Science 263, 185–189.Google Scholar
  13. Fyfe, J. C., Boer, G. J., and Flato, G. M.: 1999, ‘The Arctic and Antarctic Oscillations and their Projected Changes under Global Warming’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 1601–1604.Google Scholar
  14. Garfinkel, H. L. and Brubaker, L. B.: 1980, ‘Modern Climate-Tree Growth Relationships and Climatic Reconstruction in Sub-Arctic Alaska’, Nature 286, 872–874.Google Scholar
  15. Gillett, N. P., Hegerl, G. C., Allen, M., Stott, P. A.: 2000, ‘Implications of Changes in the Northern Hemisphere Circulation for the Detection of Anthropogenic Climate Change’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 27, 993–996.Google Scholar
  16. Griggs, R. F.: 1934, ‘The Edge of the Forest in Alaska and the Reasons for its Position’, Ecology 15, 80–96.Google Scholar
  17. Gulledge, J. and Schimel, J. P.: 2000, ‘Controls on Soil Carbon Dioxide and Methane Fluxes in a Variety of Taiga Forest Stands in Interior Alaska’, Ecosystems 3, 269–282.Google Scholar
  18. Hammond, T. and Yarie, J.: 1996, ‘Spatial Prediction of Climatic State Factor Regions in Alaska’, Ecoscience 3, 490–501.Google Scholar
  19. Holmes, R. L.: 2000, The Dendrochronological Program Library, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.Google Scholar
  20. Houghton, J., Meira Filho, L., Callander, B., Harris, N., Kattenberg, A., and Maskell, K. (eds.): 1996, Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Jacoby, G. C., Cook, E. R., and Ulan, L. D.: 1985, ‘Reconstructed Summer Degree Days in Central Alaska and Northwestern Canada since 1524’, Quat. Res. 23, 18–26.Google Scholar
  22. Jacoby, G. and D'Arrigo, R.: 1995, ‘Tree RingWidth and Density Evidence of Climatic and Potential Forest Change in Alaska’, Global Biogeochem. Cycles 9, 227–234.Google Scholar
  23. Jacoby, G. C. and D'Arrigo, R.: 1997, ‘Tree Rings, Carbon Dioxide, and Climatic Change’, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 94, 8350–8353.Google Scholar
  24. Jacoby, G. C., D'Arrigo, R., and Davaajamts, T.: 1996, ‘Mongolian Tree Rings and 20th-Century Warming’, Science 273, 771–773.Google Scholar
  25. Jacoby, G., Lovelius, N., Shumilov, O., Raspopov, O., Kabainov, J., and Frank, D.: 2000: ‘Long-Term Temperature Trends and Tree Growth in the Taymir Region of Northern Siberia’, Quat. Res. 53, 312–318.Google Scholar
  26. Jonasson, S., Michelsen, A., Schmidt, I., and Nielsen, E. V.: 1999, ‘Responses in Microbes and Plants to Changed Temperature, Nutrient, and Light Regimes in the Arctic’, Ecology 80, 1828–1843.Google Scholar
  27. Kattsov, V. M. and Walsh, J. E.: 2000, ‘Twentieth Century Trends of Arctic Precipitation from Observational Data and a Climate Model Simulation’, J. Climate 13, 1362–1370.Google Scholar
  28. Keeling, C., Chin, J., and Whorf, T.: 1996, ‘Increased Activity of Northern Vegetation Inferred from Atmospheric CO2 Measurements’, Nature 382, 146–149.Google Scholar
  29. Kullman, L.: 1987, ‘Long-Term Dynamics of High-Altitude Populations of Pinus sylvestris in the Swedish Scandes’, J. Biogeogr. 14, 1–8.Google Scholar
  30. Kullman, L.: 1995, ‘Holocene Tree-Limit and Climate History from the Scandes Mountains, Sweden’, Ecology 76, 2490–2502.Google Scholar
  31. Lloyd, A. H.: 1997, ‘Response of Treeline Populations of Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana) to Climate Variation over the last 1,000 Years’, Can. J. Forest Res. 27, 936–942.Google Scholar
  32. Lloyd, A. H. and Graumlich, L. J.: 1997, ‘A 3,500 Year Record of Changes in the Structure and Distribution of Forests at Treeline in the Sierra Nevada, California, U.S.A’, Ecology 78, 1199–1210.Google Scholar
  33. Lynch, A. and Wu, W.: 2000, ‘iImpacts of Fire and Warming on Ecosystem Uptake in the Boreal Forest’, J. Climate 13, 2334–2338.Google Scholar
  34. MacDonald, G. M., Edwards, T. W. D., Moser, K. A., Pienitz, R., and Smol, J. P.: 1993, ‘Rapid Response of Treeline Vegetation and Lakes to Past Climate Warming’, Nature 361, 243–246.Google Scholar
  35. MacDonald, G. M., Velichko, A. A., Kremenetski, C. V., Borisova, O. K., Goleva, A. A., Andreev, A. A., Cwynar, L. C., Riding, R. T., Forman, S. L., Edwards, T.W. D., Aravena, R., Hammarlund, D., Szeicz, J. M., and Gattaulin, V. N.: 2000, ‘Holocene Treeline History and Climate Change across Northern Eurasia’, Quat. Res. 53, 302–311.Google Scholar
  36. Mann, M. E., Bradley, R. S., and Hughes, M. K.: 1998, ‘Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing over the Past Six Centuries’, Nature 392, 779–787.Google Scholar
  37. Myneni, R., Keeling, C., Tucker, C., Asrar, G., and Nemani, R.: 1997, ‘Increased Plant Growth in the Northern High Latitudes from 1981 to 1991’, Nature 386, 698–702.Google Scholar
  38. Nadelhoffer, K. J., Giblin, A. E., Shaver, G. R., and Linkins, A. E.: 1992, ‘Microbial Processes and Plant Nutrient Availability in Arctic Soils’, in Chapin, F. S., Jefferies, R. L., Reynolds, J. F., Shaver, G. R., and Svoboda, J. (eds.), Arctic Ecosystems in a Changing Climate: An Ecophysiological Perspective, Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 281–300.Google Scholar
  39. Oechel, W., Hastings, S., Vourlitis, G., Jenkins, M., Riechers, G., and Grulke, N.: 1993, ‘Recent Change of Arctic Tundra Ecosystems from Net Carbon Dioxide Sink to a Source’, Nature 361, 520–523.Google Scholar
  40. Osterkamp, T. E. and Romanovsky, V. E.: 1999, ‘Evidence for Warming and Thawing of Discontinuous Permafrost in Alaska’, Permafrost Periglacial Processes 10, 17–37.Google Scholar
  41. Overpeck, J., Hughen, K., Hardy, D., Bradley, R., Case, R., Douglas, M., Finney, B., Gajewski, K., Jacoby, G., Jennings, A., Lamoureux, S., Lasca, A., McDonald, G., Moore, J., Retelle,M., Smith, S., Wolfe, A., and Zielinski, G.: 1997, ‘Arctic Environmental Change of the Last Four Centuries’, Science 278, 1251–1256.Google Scholar
  42. Post, W.M., Emanuel, W. R., Zinke, P. J., Stangenberger, A. G.: 1982, ‘Soil Carbon Pools and World Life Zones’, Nature 298, 156–159.Google Scholar
  43. Serreze, M. C., Walsh, J., Chapin, F. S., Osterkamp, T., Dyurgerov, M., Romanovsky, V., Oechel, W., Morison, J., Zhang, T., and Barry, R.: 2000, ‘Observational Evidence of Recent Change in the Northern High-Latitude Environment’, Clim. Change 46, 159–207.Google Scholar
  44. Shindell, D. T., Miller, R. L., Schmidt, G. A., and Pandolfo, L.: 1999, ‘Simulation of Recent Northern Winter Climate Trends by Greenhouse-Gas Forcing’, Nature 399, 452–455.Google Scholar
  45. Silapaswan, C.: 2000, Land Cover Change on the Seward Peninsula: The Use of Remote Sensing to Evaluate the Potential Influences of Climate Change on Historical Vegetation Dynamics, M.S. Thesis, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska.Google Scholar
  46. Stokes, M. A. and Smiley, T. L.: 1968, An Introduction to Tree-Ring Dating, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois.Google Scholar
  47. Stone, R. S.: 1997, ‘Variations in Western Arctic Temperatures in Response to Cloud Radiative and Synoptic-Scale Influences’, J. Geophys. Res. 102, 21769–21776.Google Scholar
  48. Suarez, F., Binkley, D., Kaye, M. W., and Stottlemyer, R.: 1999, ‘Expansion of Forest Stands into Tundra in the Noatak National Preserve, Northwest Alaska’, Ecoscience 6, 465–470.Google Scholar
  49. Szeicz, J. M. and MacDonald, G. M.: 1994, ‘Age-Dependent Tree-Ring Growth Responses of Subarctic White Spruce to Climate’, Can. J. Forest Res. 24, 120–132.Google Scholar
  50. Thompson, D. W. J. and Wallace, J. M.: 1998, ‘The Arctic Oscillation Signature in the Wintertime Geopotential Height and Temperature Fields’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 25, 1297–1300.Google Scholar
  51. Thompson, D. W. J., Wallace, J. M., and Hegerl, G. C.: 2000, ‘Annular Modes in the Extratropical Circulation. Part II: Trends’, J. Climate 13, 1018–1036.Google Scholar
  52. Tranquillini, W.: 1979, The Physiological Ecology of the Alpine Timberline, Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  53. Weiner, J.: 1990, ‘Asymmetric Competition in Plant Populations’, Trends Ecol. Evol. 5, 360–364.Google Scholar
  54. Wadhams, P.: 1995, ‘Arctic Sea Ice Extent and Thickness’, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London A 352, 301–319.Google Scholar
  55. Wardle, P.: 1981, ‘Is the Alpine Timberline Set by Physiological Tolerance, Reproductive Capacity, or Biological Interactions?’ Proceedings of the Ecological Society of Australia 11, 53–66.Google Scholar
  56. White, A., Cannell, G., and Friend, A.: 2000, ‘The High-Latitude Terrestrial Carbon Sink: A Model Analysis’, Global Change Biol. 6, 227–245. (Received 18 January 2001; in revised form 12 July 2001)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea H. Lloyd
    • 1
  • Christopher L. Fastie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMiddlebury CollegeMiddleburyU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations