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Open AccessArticle

The Influence of Monsoon Climate on Latewood Growth of Southwestern Ponderosa Pine

Department of Forestry and Wildland Resources, Humboldt State University, 1 Harpst Street, Arcata, CA 95521, USA
School of Forestry and Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University, P.O. Box 15018, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
Department of Biological Sciences and Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Northern Arizona University, P.O. Box 5640, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Glenn Juday
Forests 2017, 8(5), 140;
Received: 16 March 2017 / Revised: 11 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 April 2017 / Published: 25 April 2017
The North American Monsoon delivers warm season precipitation to much of the southwestern United States, yet the importance of this water source for forested ecosystems in the region is not well understood. While it is widely accepted that trees in southwestern forests use winter precipitation for earlywood production, the extent to which summer (monsoon season) precipitation supports latewood production is unclear. We used tree ring records, local climate data, and stable isotope analyses (δ18O) of water and cellulose to examine the importance of monsoon precipitation for latewood production in mature ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl.) in northern Arizona. Our analyses identified monsoon season vapor pressure deficit (VPD) and Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) as significant effects on latewood growth, together explaining 39% of latewood ring width variation. Stem water and cellulose δ18O analyses suggest that monsoon precipitation was not directly used for latewood growth. Our findings suggest that mature ponderosa pines in this region utilize winter precipitation for growth throughout the entire year. The influence of monsoon precipitation on growth is indirect and mediated by its effect on atmospheric moisture stress (VPD). Together, summer VPD and antecedent soil moisture conditions have a strong influence on latewood growth. View Full-Text
Keywords: δ18O; alpha cellulose; PDSI; seasonal precipitation; southwest; tree-rings; VPD δ18O; alpha cellulose; PDSI; seasonal precipitation; southwest; tree-rings; VPD
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Kerhoulas, L.P.; Kolb, T.E.; Koch, G.W. The Influence of Monsoon Climate on Latewood Growth of Southwestern Ponderosa Pine. Forests 2017, 8, 140.

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