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Open AccessArticle

Photosynthetic Pigments in Siberian Pine and Fir under Climate Warming and Shift of the Timberline

Chair Ecology and Nature Management, Siberian Federal University, Svobodny pr. 79, Krasnoyarsk 660041, Russia
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Forests 2020, 11(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11010063
Received: 20 November 2019 / Revised: 31 December 2019 / Accepted: 2 January 2020 / Published: 4 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alpine and Polar Treelines in a Changing Environment)
Research Highlights: For the first time, the Pinus sibirica Du Tour and Abies sibirica L. conifer forest at the West Sayan ridge timberline has been explored to reveal which species is likely to react to climate change and a shift of the timberline. Such a shift may modify the ecological functions of the forests. Background and Objectives: Long-term climate change has become obvious in the mountains of southern Siberia. Specifically, a half-century rise in annual mean temperatures has been observed, while precipitation remains unchanged. Trees growing at the timberline are likely to strongly react to climate alterations. The objective was to estimate which of the two species sharing the same habitat would benefit from climate alteration and shifting of the timberline. Materials and Methods: At several altitudes (from 1413 to 1724 m a.s.l.), samples of P. sibirica and A. sibirica needles have been collected and contents of chlorophyll a and b as well as carotenoids were measured in June 2019. The temperature of needles of the two species was measured in both cloudy and sunny weather conditions. Results: The studied species have been shown to have different patterns of pigment variations with the growth of altitude. The decline of chlorophylls and carotenoids was more pronounced in P. sibirica (ratio at timberline ca. 2.2) than in A. sibirica (ratio ca. 3.1). Accordingly, the electron transport rate decreased more strongly in P. sibirica at the timberline (ca. 37.2 μmol of electrons/m−2 s−1) than in A. sibirica (56.9 μmol of electrons/m−2 s−1). The temperatures of needles in both cloudy and sunny weather were higher in A. sibirica (10.5 and 43.3 °C, respectively) than in P. sibirica (3.8 and 24.2 °C, respectively). Conclusions: The considered physiological and ecological traits show that P. sibirica is better protected from higher-altitude hazards (excess insolation, rise of temperature etc.) than A. sibirica. P. sibirica may be therefore a more likely winner than A. sibirica in the movement of the mountain timberline under climate warming in the area. View Full-Text
Keywords: timberline; higher altitude; chlorophyll; carotenoids; climate change; Pinus sibirica; Abies sibirica timberline; higher altitude; chlorophyll; carotenoids; climate change; Pinus sibirica; Abies sibirica
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Pakharkova, N.; Borisova, I.; Sharafutdinov, R.; Gavrikov, V. Photosynthetic Pigments in Siberian Pine and Fir under Climate Warming and Shift of the Timberline. Forests 2020, 11, 63.

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