Windthrow damage in Picea abies is associated with physical and chemical stem wood properties
Source: Trees, Volume 22, Number 4, August 2008 , pp. 463-473(11)
Abstract:On 26 December 1999, the windstorm “Lothar” hit large parts of western and central Europe. In Switzerland, windthrow losses reached 12.7 Mio m3 of timber, corresponding to 2.8 times the annual national timber harvest. Although these exceptional losses were due to extreme peak velocities, recent changes in tree nutrition may have increased forest susceptibility. Previous controlled environment experiments revealed that wood density (associated with wood stiffness) tends to increase in elevated CO2, and to decrease when N-availability is enhanced (e.g., by soluble N-deposition). Such changes in wood quality could theoretically influence the risk of wind damage. We used the “Lothar” windstorm as a “natural experiment” to explore links between damage and wood properties. In 104 windthrow sites across the Swiss Plateau, more than 1,600 wood cores from (1) broken, (2) uprooted and (3) still standing (not damaged) spruce trees (Picea abies) were collected in February and March 2000. Wood properties, treering width and chemistry of the wood samples were analysed. Broken trees showed wider treerings in the decade 1990–99 compared to non-broken trees (either uprooted or undamaged trees). Broken trees also showed lower non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) concentration in sapwood, reflecting active structural carbohydrate sinks associated with fast growth. There was also a trend for higher tissue N-concentrations in broken trees. No significant differences between damage types were found in wood density and wood shrinkage during desiccation. We conclude that stem breakage risk of P. abies is associated with a stimulation of growth in the past decade and with changes in tree nutritional status. However, the risk for windthrow of whole spruce trees (uprooted but not broken) was not related to the studied wood parameters.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Schönbeinstrasse 6, 4056, Basel, Switzerland 2: Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Schönbeinstrasse 6, 4056, Basel, Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: August 2008