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Increasing Drought Sensitivity and Decline of Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) in the Moroccan Middle Atlas Forests
Departamento de Sistemas Físicos, Químicos y Naturales, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Ctra. de Utrera km 1, Sevilla 41002, Spain
Faculté des Sciences, Université Abdelmalek Essaadi, Mhannech II. 93002, B.P 2121 Tétouan, Morocco
ARAID, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (CSIC), Avda. Montañana 1005, Apdo. 202, Zaragoza 50192, Spain
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 July 2011; in revised form: 30 August 2011 / Accepted: 5 September 2011 / Published: 15 September 2011
Abstract: An understanding of the interactions between climate change and forest structure on tree growth are needed for decision making in forest conservation and management. In this paper, we investigated the relative contribution of tree features and stand structure on Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) radial growth in forests that have experienced heavy grazing and logging in the past. Dendrochronological methods were applied to quantify patterns in basal-area increment and drought sensitivity of Atlas cedar in the Middle Atlas, northern Morocco. We estimated the tree-to-tree competition intensity and quantified the structure in Atlas cedar stands with contrasting tree density, age, and decline symptoms. The relative contribution of tree age and size and stand structure to Atlas cedar growth decline was estimated by variance partitioning using partial-redundancy analyses. Recurrent drought events and temperature increases have been identified from local climate records since the 1970s. We detected consistent growth declines and increased drought sensitivity in Atlas cedar across all sites since the early 1980s. Specifically, we determined that previous growth rates and tree age were the strongest tree features, while Quercus rotundifolia basal area was the strongest stand structure measure related to Atlas cedar decline. As a result, we suggest that Atlas cedar forests that have experienced severe drought in combination with grazing and logging may be in the process of shifting dominance toward more drought-tolerant species such as Q. rotundifolia.
Keywords: basal area increment; Cedrus atlantica; climate change; dendroecology; drought; forest structure; partial redundancy analysis
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Linares, J.C.; Taïqui, L.; Camarero, J.J. Increasing Drought Sensitivity and Decline of Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) in the Moroccan Middle Atlas Forests. Forests 2011, 2, 777-796.
Linares JC, Taïqui L, Camarero JJ. Increasing Drought Sensitivity and Decline of Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) in the Moroccan Middle Atlas Forests. Forests. 2011; 2(3):777-796.
Linares, Juan C.; Taïqui, Lahcen; Camarero, Jesús Julio. 2011. "Increasing Drought Sensitivity and Decline of Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) in the Moroccan Middle Atlas Forests." Forests 2, no. 3: 777-796.