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Open AccessArticle

Xylem Plasticity in Pinus pinaster and Quercus ilex Growing at Sites with Different Water Availability in the Mediterranean Region: Relations between Intra-Annual Density Fluctuations and Environmental Conditions

1
Department of Wood Science and Technology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Jamnikarjeva 101, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
2
Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies University of Campania “L. Vanvitelli”, Via Vivaldi 43, I-81100 Caserta, Italy
3
Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf (Zurich), Switzerland
4
Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Forest Sciences Center, 2004-2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
5
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Via Università 100, I-80055 Portici (Naples), Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(4), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11040379
Received: 14 February 2020 / Revised: 16 March 2020 / Accepted: 25 March 2020 / Published: 27 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dendroecological Wood Anatomy and Xylogenesis)
Fluctuations in climatic conditions during the growing season are recorded in Mediterranean tree-rings and often result in intra-annual density fluctuations (IADFs). Dendroecology and quantitative wood anatomy analyses were used to characterize the relations between the variability of IADF traits and climatic drivers in Pinus pinaster Aiton and Quercus ilex L. growing at sites with different water availability on the Elba island in Central Italy. Our results showed that both species present high xylem plasticity resulting in the formation of L-type IADFs (L-IADFs), consisting of earlywood-like cells in latewood. The occurrence of such IADFs was linked to rain events following periods of summer drought. The formation of L-IADFs in both species increased the hydraulic conductivity late in the growing season, due to their larger lumen area in comparison to “true latewood”. The two species expressed greater similarity under arid conditions, as unfavorable climates constrained trait variation. Wood density, measured as the percentage of cell walls over total xylem area, IADF frequency, as well as conduit lumen area and vessel frequency, specifically in the hardwood species, proved to be efficient proxies to encode climate signals recorded in the xylem. The response of these anatomical traits to climatic variations was found to be species- and site-specific. View Full-Text
Keywords: false rings; Mediterranean ecosystems; oak; pine; tree-rings; wood anatomical traits false rings; Mediterranean ecosystems; oak; pine; tree-rings; wood anatomical traits
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MDPI and ACS Style

Balzano, A.; Battipaglia, G.; Cherubini, P.; De Micco, V. Xylem Plasticity in Pinus pinaster and Quercus ilex Growing at Sites with Different Water Availability in the Mediterranean Region: Relations between Intra-Annual Density Fluctuations and Environmental Conditions. Forests 2020, 11, 379.

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