"Dendroecology": Climatic impact on functional wood anatomy, seasonal wood formation, and tree growth along altitudinal gradients on Corsica [funded by DFG]

Project staff:

Martin Häusser
Prof. Dr. Achim Bräuning


The impact of climate extreme events on forest ecosystems is manifested in structural changes of the wood anatomy which represents a long-term memory in the climate archive wood and which influence the functionality of the hydraulic system of trees. Wood anatomical properties react within genetically predefined and species-specific plasticity and can be quantified with image analytical approaches. Wood anatomical anomalies like intra-annual density fluctuations occur in a high frequency within the Mediterranean region and document the response of cambial activity and cell differentiation in dry spells within the vegetation period. The temporal dynamics of cambial activity and differencing wood tissues is influenced by interannual variations of growth-limiting climate factors and mirrors short-term, but according to high tree ages also long-term climate variability. We will analyze the impact of seasonal climate on cambial activity, growth rates, and formed wood tissues’ anatomy along an elevation gradient that includes all climatic types within forested regions on Corsica. The study includes two evergreen pine species (Pinus pinaster, Pinus nigra) whose distribution patterns overlap within the studied elevation gradient, allowing a differentiation between species-specific and environmental factors influencing wood formation. Collaborations within the project bundle CorsicArchive will provide meteorological data and climatological models along the elevation gradient as well as stable oxygen isotope analyses of wood and precipitation water with high temporal resolution and will allow a climatological and tree physiological interpretation of the measured growth processes and wood structures. These data will be integrated in a tree-growth-stable isotope model DendroIso and applied on former climatic extreme events during the past centuries to gain a better understanding of the hydroclimatic variability during different climate periods on Corsica, and on their effects on tree ecology.

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