Journal Article

Rockfall and snow avalanche impacts leave different anatomical signatures in tree rings of juvenile <i>Larix decidua</i>

Markus Stoffel and Oliver M. Hitz

in Tree Physiology

Volume 28, issue 11, pages 1713-1720
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online September 2008 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/28.11.1713
Rockfall and snow avalanche impacts leave different anatomical signatures in tree rings of juvenile Larix decidua

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Summary

Rockfall and snow avalanche events often cause injury to European larch (Larix decidua Mill.) trees, giving rise to the formation of callus tissue and tangential rows of traumatic resin ducts (TRDs). We analyzed and quantified anatomical reactions of juvenile trees injured before the start of the growing season by snow avalanches (15 trees, 324 cross sections) or rockfalls (18 trees, 270 cross sections). Traumatic resin ducts were observed in the growth ring formed following injury in 94.3% of the rockfall samples and 87.3% of the snow avalanche samples. Traumatic resin ducts were formed at the beginning of the new annual ring around wounds caused by rockfalls. In contrast, in trees injured by snow avalanches, TRDs were not formed until after the formation of several rows of early earlywood (EE) tracheids (mean ± SD = 4.19 ± 2.56 rows). The dimensions of the EE tracheids observed in the snow avalanche samples were greatly reduced in the tissues bordering the wound, with radial width reaching an average of only 50% and lumen cross-sectional area an average of only 46% of pre-event values. It is therefore possible to differentiate injuries due to past snow avalanches from injuries due to rockfall based on anatomical growth reactions in the tissues bordering scars.

Keywords: earlywood tracheids; European larch; growth ring; injury; rays; traumatic resin ducts; wood anatomy; wounding

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Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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