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Moisture-Limited Tree Growth for a Subtropical Himalayan Conifer Forest in Western Nepal

1
Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2
Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
3
Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
4
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (IPE-CSIC), 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
5
CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
6
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(6), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9060340
Received: 16 May 2018 / Revised: 6 June 2018 / Accepted: 7 June 2018 / Published: 8 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tree-Ring Records of Climatic Impacts on Forests)
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Abstract

Chir pine (Pinus roxburghii Sarg.) is a common tree species with ecological and economic importance across the subtropical forests of the central Himalayas. However, little is known about its growth response to the recent warming and drying trends observed in this region. Here, we developed a 268-year-long ring-width chronology (1743–2010) from western Nepal to investigate its growth response to climate. Based on nearby available meteorological records, growth was positively correlated with winter (November to February; r = 0.39, p < 0.05) as well as March to April (r = 0.67, p < 0.001) precipitation. Growth also showed a strong positive correlation with the sum of precipitation from November of the previous year to April of the current year (r = 0.65, p < 0.001). In contrast, a negative relationship with the mean temperature in March to April (r = −0.48, p < 0.05) suggests the influence of warming-induced evapotranspiration on tree growth. Spring droughts lasting 4–6 months constrain Chir pine growth. These results are supported by the synchronization between droughts and very narrow or locally missing rings. Warming and drying tendencies during winter and spring will reduce forest growth and resilience and make Chir pine forests more vulnerable and at higher risk of growth decline and dieback. View Full-Text
Keywords: dendrochronology; central Himalayas; western Nepal; Pinus roxburghii; climate change; subtropical forest; pre-monsoon season dendrochronology; central Himalayas; western Nepal; Pinus roxburghii; climate change; subtropical forest; pre-monsoon season
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Sigdel, S.R.; Dawadi, B.; Camarero, J.J.; Liang, E.; Leavitt, S.W. Moisture-Limited Tree Growth for a Subtropical Himalayan Conifer Forest in Western Nepal. Forests 2018, 9, 340.

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