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The different strategies of Pinus sylvestris and Larix sibirica to deal with summer drought in a northern Mongolian forest–steppe ecotone suggest a future superiority of pine in a warming climate

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Pinus sylvesteris L. is locally common at the lower forest line to the steppe in Mongolia’s taiga forests, which are otherwise dominated by Larix sibirica Ledeb. The factors responsible for the occurrence of pine patches in the forest–steppe ecotone are insufficiently studied. We analyzed the response of P.sylvestris to summer drought in the western Khentey Mountains, northern Mongolia, by measuring shoot water potentials and exemplary measurements of 13C signatures, CO2–H2O gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence yield, and concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates. Pine trees growing in the forest–steppe ecotone show conservative water consumption with a sensitive stomatal regulation and relatively constant shoot water potentials under dry conditions. This might be a selective advantage for P.sylvestris against increasing aridity driven by global warming, since the main competitor, L.sibirica, often suffers from drought stress even under the current climate in the study area.

Le Pinus sylvestris L. est commun localement à la limite inférieure de la forêt où débute la steppe dans les forêts de la taïga en Mongolie qui sont dans l’ensemble dominées par le Larix sibirica Ledeb. Les facteurs responsables de la présence de bouquets de pins dans l’écotone forêt–steppe n’ont pas suffisamment été étudiés. Nous avons analysé la réponse du P. sylvestris à la sécheresse estivale dans les Khentey occidentales, dans le nord de la Mongolie, en mesurant le potentiel hydrique des pousses et par des mesures exemplaires des signatures de 13C, des échanges gazeux CO2–H2O, du rendement de la fluorescence de la chlorophylle et de la concentration des hydrates de carbone non structuraux. Les pins qui croissent dans l’écotone forêt–steppe ont une consommation conservatrice de l’eau, une régulation stomatale sensible et un potentiel hydrique relativement constant dans les pousses en période sèche. Cela pourrait constituer un avantage sélectif pour le P. sylvestris étant donné l’augmentation de l’aridité due au réchauffement global alors que son principal compétiteur, le L. sibirica, souffre souvent de la sécheresse dans le climat actuel de la région à l’étude.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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