Tree-Growth Variations of Nothofagus antarctica Related to Climate and Land Use Changes in Southern Patagonia, Argentina

  • Evangelina Soledad Vettese
  • Ricardo Villalba
  • Ivonne Alejandra Orellana Ibáñez
  • Pablo Luis Peri


Isolated forest patches of Nothofagus antarctica (ñire) are frequent in the Patagonian forest-steppe ecotone. These remnants, also called relicts (R), are separate from the continuous forests (C). Over the past century, these ecotonal forests have been impacted by anthropogenic activities, including fires, logging, and cattle ranching. In order to identify in N. antarctica ring-width records the variations in tree growth associated with documented changes in land use, five sites were selected in Santa Cruz, Argentina. In each site, increment cores from R and C were collected. We developed individual chronologies, and the relationships between regional climate variations and N. antarctica growth were established for each forest type and site. The similarities/differences between site-paired chronologies (R-C) were estimated by calculating moving correlation coefficients lagged by 1 year. N. antarctica regional growth was directly related to precipitation during the current growing season (November–December; r = 0.34, n = 62, p < 0.01), and inversely related to temperature (December–March; r = −0.58, n = 62, p < 0.001). Since the middle of the twentieth century, a progressive decrease has been recorded in regional radial growth, consistent with an increase in summer temperature and a decrease in spring precipitation. In the context of this regional response of N. antarctica to climate, differences in growth patterns between R and C were associated with past changes in land use. Overall, the largest differences between R and C chronologies were concurrent with the settlement of cattle ranches and the associated use of forests. Conversely, similarities between R and C records increased after the establishment of protected areas and during the implementation of similar management practices in both forest types. Our research provides the first dendrochronological records from Nothofagus antarctica for the Argentinean Patagonia and represents one of the first efforts to identify in tree-rings past changes in livestock practices in southern South America.


Forest-steppe ecotone Relict and continuous forest Dendrochronology Climate-tree growth relationship Historical and cultural use of the land Dendroclimatology 

Supplementary material

477499_1_En_15_MOESM1_ESM.png (2.1 mb)
Fig. 15.S1 Spatial correlation pattern between monthly surface temperature in Torre Glacier (IANIGLA-CONICET) (black dot) and gridded data from the ERA Interim re-analysis during the 2002–2016 period. The location of the meteorological stations from Esquel, Río Gallegos and Punta Arenas are indicated by grey dots. Study sites are numbered within white dots (PNG 2186 KB)
477499_1_En_15_MOESM2_ESM.png (2 mb)
Fig. 15.S2 Spatial correlation pattern between monthly precipitation from Los Huemules station (black dot) and gridded data from the ERA Interim re-analysis during the 2006–2016 period. The location of the meteorological station from Punta Arenas is indicate by a grey dot. Study sites are numbered within white dots (PNG 2037 KB)
477499_1_En_15_MOESM3_ESM.png (651 kb)
Fig. 15.S3 Spatial correlation pattern between seasonal (Dec-Aug) precipitation from Punta Arenas station (black dot) and gridded data from the ERA Interim re-analysis during the 1979–2017 period. The location of the study sites are numbered within white dots (PNG 651 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evangelina Soledad Vettese
    • 1
  • Ricardo Villalba
    • 2
  • Ivonne Alejandra Orellana Ibáñez
    • 3
  • Pablo Luis Peri
    • 4
  1. 1.Centro de Investigación y Transferencia Santa Cruz (CIT – Santa Cruz – CONICET)Río GallegosArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales (IANIGLA – CONICET)MendozaArgentina
  3. 3.Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Ciencias de la Salud– Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco (FCNyCS – UNPSJB – Esquel)EsquelArgentina
  4. 4.Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria – Estación Experimental Agropecuaria Santa Cruz (INTA EEA – Santa Cruz). Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia Austral (UNPA – CONICET)Río GallegosArgentina

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