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Adamset al., 2014


Topography alters tree growth–climate relationships in a semi-arid forested catchment

Adams H. R., Brnard H. R., and Loomis A. K. (2014)
Ecosphere, Volume 5(11) v Article 148  


Topography and climate play an integral role in the spatial variability and annual dynamics of aboveground carbon sequestration. Despite knowledge of vegetation–climate–topography relationships on the landscape and hillslope scales, little is known about the influence of complex terrain coupled with hydrologic and topoclimatic variation on tree growth and physiology at the catchment scale. Climate change predictions for the semi-arid, western United States include increased temperatures, more frequent and extreme drought events, and decreases in snowpack, all of which put forests at risk of drought induced mortality and enhanced susceptibility to disturbance events. In this study, we determine how species- specific tree growth patterns and water use efficiency respond to interannual climate variability and how this response varies with topographic position. We found that Pinus contorta and Pinus ponderosa both show significant decreases in growth with water-limiting climate conditions, but complex terrain mediates this response by controlling moisture conditions in variable topoclimates. Foliar carbon isotope analyses show increased water use efficiency during drought for Pinus contorta , but indicate no significant difference in water use efficiency of Pinus ponderosa between a drought year and a non-drought year. The responses of the two pine species to climate indicate that semi-arid forests are especially susceptible to changes and risks posed by climate change and that topographic variability will likely play a significant role in determining the future vegetation patterns of semi-arid systems


Adams H. R., Brnard H. R., and Loomis A. K. (2014): Topography alters tree growth–climate relationships in a semi-arid forested catchment. Ecosphere, Volume 5(11) v Article 148. DOI: 0.1890/ES14-00296.1

This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.

Associated Data

Gordon Gulch - Tree Growth & Physiology (2011-2012)
2 components    Gordon Gulch    Biology / Ecology    Hallie R. Adams; Holly R. Barnard; Alexander K. Loomis