Journal Article

Interactions of thinning and stem height on the drought response of radial stem growth and isotopic composition of Norway spruce (<i>Picea abies</i>)

Julia A. Sohn, Martin Kohler, Arthur Gessler and Jürgen Bauhus

Edited by James Ehleringer

in Tree Physiology

Volume 32, issue 10, pages 1199-1213
Published in print October 2012 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online September 2012 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Interactions of thinning and stem height on the drought response of radial stem growth and isotopic composition of Norway spruce (Picea abies)

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Radial stem growth and the isotopic composition of growth rings are commonly used to quantify the effects of droughts on trees. However, often these parameters are quantified only at one stem height, e.g., 1.3 m, and it is not known how representative this is for the whole stem. This study investigated radial growth at four stem heights (1.3, 5.5, 9.8 and 14 m) of 21, and wood Δ13C and δ18O at two heights (1.3 and 14 m) of 10 (co-)dominant Norway spruce trees from heavily (HT) and moderately thinned (MT) stands to assess whether different thinning intensities influenced the drought response of stems at different tree heights. Annual basal area increments (BAIs) and stable isotopes in earlywood and latewood were compared between thinning treatments and among the different stem heights. For BAIs, linear correlations with climate were analysed as well. The response of radial growth and isotopic composition to drought was similar at different stem heights in HT trees, but varied with height in MT trees, which were also more sensitive to climatic variations. Recovery of radial growth after drought was more rapid in trees from HT compared with MT stands, except for the topmost height. Basal area increments at breast height (1.3 m) provided good estimates of the volume growth response to drought for the whole stem, but not for its recovery. The faster recovery of radial growth at 1.3 m height of HT compared with MT trees after the 2003 drought was not accompanied by differences in recovery of isotopic composition. However, this is likely to be related to differences between treatments in remobilization of stored C and in tree structure (leaf area, root systems).

Keywords: carbon/oxygen isotopes; drought; Picea abies; stem analysis; thinning

Journal Article.  10167 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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