The ecological environment of species distribution area changes with terrain gradient and climate change, leading to the spatial differences of the limiting factors of tree growth. Due to the great differences of altitude gradient in mountain area, relationships between limiting factors, tree growth and climate change a lot. Thus, knowing the relationships between tree growth and climate change helps further understand the influence of climate change on tree growth and its distribution.
Tree-rings can provide climatical sensitive records demonstrating relationships between tree growth and climatic conditions, and these records can be unraveled through standard dendroecological techniques. Abies fargesii is a kind of coniferous species, widely distributed at the high elevations in the Qin-Ba Mountains. Prof. ZHANG Quanfa and his Ph.D. student DANG Haishan from the System Ecology Research Group at Wuhan Botanical Garden employed dendroecological techniques to explore the growth response of subalpine fir (A. fargesii) to climatic conditions across its altitudinal range in both the north and south aspects in the Shennongjia Mountains, central China.
Correlation function analyses indicated that the growth of the subalpine fir responded differently to climate conditions along the altitudinal gradient, showing that the importance of temperature for the fir radial growth increased while the importance of precipitation decreased with increasing altitude in both aspects in the Shennongjia Mountains, central China. Radial growth of the subalpine fir was influenced by precipitation and temperature at the lower elevations, while temperatures in previous autumn and in current spring showed significantly positive correlations with fir radial growth at the mid- and high-elevations in both aspects. Moving correlation functions showed that temperatures in early spring of the current year had a relatively stable effect on tree growth over time at the mid- and upper-elevations in both aspects.
This research was jointly funded by the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences for Key Topics in Innovation Engineering. The relevant results entitled “Climate-growth relationships of subalpine fir (Abies fargesii) across the altitudinal range in the Shennongjia Mountains, central China” were published in Climatic Change（doi: 10.1007/s10584-012-0611-5）.
Article link: http://www.springerlink.com/content/346vh578778vv775/
The 22 years moving correlation analysis results of relationships between the subalpine fir (A. fargesii) growth and the climate factors (T: temperature, P: precipitation) in previous year (-1) and the current year.