Age-Dependent Changes in Environmental Influences on Tree Growth and Their Implications for Forest Responses to Climate Change

Part of the Tree Physiology book series (TREE, volume 4)


Dendrochronology has long used tree-rings to better understand ­climate-tree-growth relationships within a site or across a region, with tree age often considered to contribute unwanted noise to the signal in question. Here I demonstrate that strong climate-tree-growth relationships exist across sites, on a global scale, and that these changes are correlated with variation in average net primary productivity. The age-specific tree-ring data analyses used here show that the sensitivity of tree growth to environmental variability changes predictably with tree age. Young trees were found to be particularly sensitive to each of the environmental factors investigated. These results are discussed in the context of climate change and established changes in tree morphology and physiological function with tree age or size. I argue that explicitly treating tree or forest age can yield tangible improvements in the projection of terrestrial carbon sink responses to climate change by increasing the accuracy with which forest to non-forest ecosystem boundaries can be projected.


Tree Growth Young Tree Tree Productivity Biomass Increment Radial Growth Rate 
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.



This study was made possible because of the existence of the International Tree-ring Data Bank. SLV thanks the contributors, volunteers and NOAA staff invested in maintaining the excellent quality and availability of data within the ITRDB. SLV is also indebted to Steve Leavitt and Pearce Paul Creasman for access to the LTRR archives, to Alice Hyde for her help processing tree-ring data and to JR brooks and FC Meinzer for critical reading of earlier drafts of the manuscript. SLV was supported by a grant from the NSF award 0743882 DEB – Ecosystems.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wood Science and EngineeringOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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