Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Will global climate change enhance boreal forest growth?

Date:
June 6, 2011
Source:
American Journal of Botany
Summary:
With an increasingly warmer climate, there is a trend for springs to arrive earlier and summers to be hotter. Since spring and summer are the prime growing seasons for plants -- when flowers bloom and trees increase in girth and height -- do these climate changes mean greater seasonal growth for plants? This is a critical question for forest management, especially in the boreal region -- an area particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change.

With an increasingly warmer climate, there is a trend for springs to arrive earlier and summers to be hotter. Since spring and summer are the prime growing seasons for plants -- when flowers bloom and trees increase in girth and height -- do these climate changes mean greater seasonal growth for plants? This is a critical question for forest management, especially in the boreal region -- an area particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change.
Credit: MarisTerauds / Fotolia

With an increasingly warmer climate, there is a trend for springs to arrive earlier and summers to be hotter. Since spring and summer are the prime growing seasons for plants -- when flowers bloom and trees increase in girth and height -- do these climate changes mean greater seasonal growth for plants? This is a critical question for forest management, especially in the boreal region -- an area particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change.

Related Articles


Dr. Jian-Guo Huang, currently a post-doc at the University of Alberta, and colleagues from the University of Quebec at Montreal were interested in assessing whether a potentially extended growing season affects stem xylem formation and growth in black spruce (Picea mariana) in Western Quebec, Canada. They published their findings in the May issue of the American Journal of Botany.

Xylem cells conduct water and nutrients from roots to the leaves, but also provide mechanical support and form the wood of trees. Growth patterns of xylem are of interest to foresters because thicker-walled xylem cells produce denser wood -- and aspects of the climate, such as temperature and rainfall, may impact not only the number of cells produced during a growing season, but also cell wall thickness.

By taking microcore samples from black spruce trees at three different latitudes ranging from 47.5o to 50oN in Western Quebec throughout the growing season (May-September) in 2005 and 2006, Huang and colleagues were able to determine when xylem cell production began and ended, as well as the pattern of xylem cell growth. They then compared these data to soil and air temperature and precipitation data gathered from local climate stations.

"Every small wood xylem cell contains meteorological information during its growing process," Huang commented. "Exploring a series of micro-wood xylem cells helps us understand the macro-climate variability."

When the authors examined the pattern of xylem cell initiation, they found an interesting correlation with patterns in air temperatures in the two years. Across all three sites, xylem cell production in black spruce trees started earlier in 2006 than in 2005, corresponding with an earlier spring (and warmer May temperatures) in 2006 -- indicating a positive relationship between temperature and onset of xylem production.

Temperature affects not only when cells begin to grow, but also the growth patterns of those cells. Xylem cells produced early in the season -- earlywood -- are large in size with thin walls, while those produced later in the season -- latewood -- are smaller and have thicker walls.

Despite early warm temperatures in 2006, temperatures for the rest of the growing season were actually lower in June through August compared with 2005. And, correspondingly, Huang and co-authors found that in 2006 black spruce trees stopped producing both early and latewood earlier than in 2005. Consequently there were higher ratios of latewood cells to total xylem cells in 2006, and narrower, less-productive growth rings.

"Our study implies that despite the expected occurrence of earlier phenological development due to early spring climate warming, boreal trees like Picea mariana might not be producing wider rings if cold temperatures occur later in the growing season in June to August," Huang said. "These results may challenge the view that boreal trees could be benefiting from spring warming to enhance growth."

Thus, not only is the timing of the onset of spring important, but the amplitude of summer warming temperatures also plays a role in wood production.

Huang and his colleagues intend to further explore how intra-annual xylem formation of other boreal species, particularly broadleaf species, is responding to climate warming and varies across species and sites.

"Because broadleaf species are more limited by precipitation, early spring warming (i.e., early onset of cell production) followed by cold June-August temperatures (i.e., less drought stress) might favor xylem cell production, resulting in wider rings and better growth, when compared with conifers like Picea mariana," commented Huang. "These different growth responses to climate warming across species might lead to potential changes in forest growth, structure and composition, as well as the whole forest ecosystem productivity, and carbon equilibrium."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Journal of Botany. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J.-G. Huang, Y. Bergeron, L. Zhai, B. Denneler. Variation in intra-annual radial growth (xylem formation) of Picea mariana (Pinaceae) along a latitudinal gradient in western Quebec, Canada. American Journal of Botany, 2011; 98 (5): 792 DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1000074

Cite This Page:

American Journal of Botany. "Will global climate change enhance boreal forest growth?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516102251.htm>.
American Journal of Botany. (2011, June 6). Will global climate change enhance boreal forest growth?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516102251.htm
American Journal of Botany. "Will global climate change enhance boreal forest growth?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516102251.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins