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Open AccessArticle

Climate Warming Alters Age-Dependent Growth Sensitivity to Temperature in Eurasian Alpine Treelines

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Departamento Sistemas Físicos, Químicos y Naturales, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, 41013 Sevilla, Spain
2
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE-CSIC), 50192 Zaragoza, Spain
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Departamento Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals, Universidad Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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Departamento de Ciencias Agroforestales, EiFAB, iuFOR-Universidad de Valladolid, Campus Duques de Soria, 42004 Soria, Spain
5
Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology UD RAS, 8 Marta 202, Yekaterinburg 620144, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(11), 688; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9110688
Received: 1 September 2018 / Revised: 29 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 October 2018 / Published: 3 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
Treeline ecotones are considered early-warning monitors of the effects of climate warming on terrestrial ecosystems, but it is still unclear how tree growth at treeline will track the forecasted temperature rise in these cold environments. Here, we address this issue by analysing and projecting growth responses to climate on two different cold-limited alpine treelines: Pinus uncinata Ram. in the Spanish Pyrenees and Larix sibirica Ledeb. in the Russian Polar Urals. We assess radial-growth changes as a function of tree age and long-term climate variability using dendrochronology and a process-based model of tree growth. Climate‒growth relationships were compared considering young (age < 50 years) and old trees (age > 75 years) separately. Warm summer conditions enhanced radial growth, particularly after the 1980s, in the Polar Urals sites, whereas growth was positively related to warm spring and winter conditions in the Pyrenees sites. These associations were stronger in young than in old trees for both tree species and regions. Forecasted warm conditions are expected to enhance growth rates in both regions, while the growing season is forecasted to lengthen in the Pyrenees treelines, mostly in young trees. The observed age-related responses to temperature also depend on the forecasted warming rates. Although the temperature sensitivity is overall increasing for young trees, those responses seem more divergent, or even reversed, throughout the contrasting emission scenarios. The RCP 8.5 emission scenario corresponding to the most pronounced warming and drier conditions (+4.8 °C) could also amplify drought stress in young trees from the Pyrenees treelines. Our modelling approach provides accessible tools to evaluate functional thresholds for tree growth in treeline ecotones under warmer conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: dendroecology; growth modelling; emission scenarios; Pinus uncinata; Larix sibirica; treeline ecotone; Vaganov–Shashkin-Lite model dendroecology; growth modelling; emission scenarios; Pinus uncinata; Larix sibirica; treeline ecotone; Vaganov–Shashkin-Lite model
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Sanchez-Salguero, R.; Camarero, J.J.; Gutiérrez, E.; Gazol, A.; Sangüesa-Barreda, G.; Moiseev, P.; Linares, J.C. Climate Warming Alters Age-Dependent Growth Sensitivity to Temperature in Eurasian Alpine Treelines. Forests 2018, 9, 688.

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