Climatic Influences on Wood Anatomy and Tree-Ring Features of Great Basin Conifers at a New Mountain Observatory
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Premise of the study: A network of mountain observing stations has been installed in the Great Basin of North America. NevCAN (Nevada Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network), which spans a latitudinal range of 2.5 ° and two elevation ranges of about 2000 m each, enabled us to investigate tree growth in relation to climate. Methods: We analyzed wood anatomy and tree-ring characteristics of four conifer species in response to different levels of water availability by comparing a low- and a high-elevation population. Chronologies of earlywood and latewood widths, as well as cellular parameters, were developed from the year 2000 to 2012. Results: At the southern (drier and warmer) sites, Pinus monophylla had smaller cell lumen, tracheid diameter, and cell wall thickness. Pinus monophylla and P. flexilis showed bigger cellular elements at the higher elevations, whereas the opposite pattern was found in Picea engelmannii and Pinus longaeva. When all species and sites were pooled together, stem diameter was positively related with earlywood anatomical parameters. Discussion: We have provided a glimpse of the applications that NevCAN, as a new scientific tool, could allow in the general field of botany. In particular, we were able to investigate how differences in water stress related to elevation lead to changes in xylem anatomy.
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