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Increased Drought Sensitivity Results in a Declining Tree Growth of Pinus latteri in Northeastern Thailand

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CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xishuangbanna 666303, China
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University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
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Center for Plant Ecology, Core Botanical Gardens, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xishuangbanna 666303, China
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Ailaoshan Station of Subtropical Forest Ecosystem Studies, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jingdong, Yunnan 676209, China
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Faculty of Environment and Resources Studies, Mahidol University, Nakhon Pathom 73170, Thailand
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Department of Forest Biology, Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
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Forest Research and Development Office, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(3), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11030361
Received: 21 February 2020 / Revised: 22 March 2020 / Accepted: 22 March 2020 / Published: 24 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impacts of Climate Change on Forest Trees and Forest Ecosystems)
Climate change may lead to alterations in tree growth and carbon cycling. Interpreting the response of forest growth to climate change requires an understanding of the temporal and spatial patterns of seasonal climatic influences on the growth of tree species. However, the effects of climate change on pine forest dynamics in tropical region of Thailand remain poorly understood. This study develops three new tree ring-width chronologies of Pinus latteri (Tenasserim pine) in northern and northeastern Thailand and analyzes their climate-growth relationships and temporal stability. Ring-width chronologies of P. latteri at three sites showed significantly positive correlations with precipitation, relative humidity and self-calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index (scPDSI) during the dry season (previous November to current April) and early rainy season (May–June). Conversely, significantly negative correlations were found between ring-width site chronologies and air temperatures (mean, maximum and minimum) from April to August. Therefore, our results revealed that radial growth of Tenasserim pines from northern and northeastern Thailand was mainly limited by moisture availability during the dry-to-wet transition season from April to June. Moving correlations revealed that Tenasserim pines in the lowland area of northeastern Thailand became more sensitive to moisture availability in recent 30 years (1985–2017) as compared with early period (1951–1984). Accompanying the shifted growth sensitivity to climate change, growth synchrony among trees was increasing and tree growth rates of Tenasserim pines have been declining during recent decades at two more moisture-limited sites in northeastern Thailand. Recent rapid warming and increasing drought during the transition season (April–June) together intensify climatic constrains on tree growth of Tenasserim pines in the lowland area of northeastern Thailand. Considering continued regional climate change, pine forests in tropical lowland areas may encounter intensified drought stresses, and thus, become more vulnerable to future climate change. Our results serve as an early indicator of potential effects of climate change on tropical pine species and raise concerns about sustainable managements of pine forests under a changing climate. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; climate-growth response; sensitivity; moisture availability; Pinus latteri; Thailand; tree rings climate change; climate-growth response; sensitivity; moisture availability; Pinus latteri; Thailand; tree rings
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Rakthai, S.; Fu, P.-L.; Fan, Z.-X.; Gaire, N.P.; Pumijumnong, N.; Eiadthong, W.; Tangmitcharoen, S. Increased Drought Sensitivity Results in a Declining Tree Growth of Pinus latteri in Northeastern Thailand. Forests 2020, 11, 361.

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