Air temperature, tree growth, and the northern and southern range limits to Picea mariana

Air temperature, tree growth, and the northern and southern range limits to Picea mariana Abstract. Many models that simulate the long‐term response of forests to climatic change use the assumption that northern and southern range limits are caused by the deleterious effects of cold and hot air temperatures, respectively, on individual tree growth and that growth declines symmetrically with air temperatures above and below some optimal value in between these extremes. To test the validity of this assumption, we combined physiological data for black spruce, Picea mariana, growing near the treeline in subarctic Quebec with a model of the biophysical and biochemical effects of temperature on photosynthesis. The physiological conditions allow black spruce to grow over a wider range of air temperatures than is reflected in its geographic distribution. In particular, the physiological data suggest that the northern range limit of black spruce is not caused by the direct effects of cold growing‐season air temperatures on tree growth and that growth is optimal, with respect to temperature, at the southern range limit. While pollen data indicate large geographic changes in spruce abundance with past climatic changes, the current analyses suggest that the direct effect of air temperature on individual tree growth has not caused these changes. Until we better understand the effects of air temperature on ecological processes, the efficacy of climatic change analyses must be evaluated in terms of model assumptions. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Vegetation Science Wiley

Air temperature, tree growth, and the northern and southern range limits to Picea mariana

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Abstract

Abstract. Many models that simulate the long‐term response of forests to climatic change use the assumption that northern and southern range limits are caused by the deleterious effects of cold and hot air temperatures, respectively, on individual tree growth and that growth declines symmetrically with air temperatures above and below some optimal value in between these extremes. To test the validity of this assumption, we combined physiological data for black spruce, Picea mariana, growing near the treeline in subarctic Quebec with a model of the biophysical and biochemical effects of temperature on photosynthesis. The physiological conditions allow black spruce to grow over a wider range of air temperatures than is reflected in its geographic distribution. In particular, the physiological data suggest that the northern range limit of black spruce is not caused by the direct effects of cold growing‐season air temperatures on tree growth and that growth is optimal, with respect to temperature, at the southern range limit. While pollen data indicate large geographic changes in spruce abundance with past climatic changes, the current analyses suggest that the direct effect of air temperature on individual tree growth has not caused these changes. Until we better understand the effects of air temperature on ecological processes, the efficacy of climatic change analyses must be evaluated in terms of model assumptions.

Journal

Journal of Vegetation ScienceWiley

Published: Aug 1, 1992

References

  • Photosynthetic response and adaptation to temperature in higher plants
    Berry, Berry; Björkman, Björkman
  • A biophysical surface energy budget analysis of soil temperature in the boreal forests of interior Alaska
    Bonan, Bonan
  • Transient response of forests to CO 2 induced climate change: simulation modeling experiments in eastern North America
    Solomon, Solomon
  • Sapwood water storage: its contribution to transpiration and effect upon water conductance through the stems of old‐growth Douglas fir
    Waring, Waring; Running, Running

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