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Spatial variability of tree growth along a latitudinal transect in the Qilian Mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau

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Little is known about the spatial variability in tree growth and its responses to climate on the Tibetan Plateau; however, such information is essential for improving predictions of forest ecosystem response to climatic change. A network of 16 ring width chronologies was developed along a latitudinal transect in the Qilian Mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau. A principal components analysis revealed that the residual chronologies had a positive loading on the first unrotated principal component (PC1). After rotation, PC1 yielded the highest loadings on the driest sites in the northwest and decreased to the south and to the east. PC2 was negatively correlated with altitude. Moisture availability was a dominant limiting factor for tree growth, and this dominance increased northwards and westwards along the precipitation gradient. Loadings of the first two rotated principal components separated the 16 forest sites into three major groups corresponding to the three regions affected by the East Asian Monsoon, Westerlies, and their interaction. Thus, spatial variability in tree growth is an excellent bioindicator of regional climate.

On connaît peu de choses sur la variation spatiale de la croissance des arbres et de sa réaction au climat sur le plateau tibétain. Toutefois, cette information est nécessaire pour améliorer les prédictions de la réaction des écosystèmes forestiers aux changements climatiques. Un réseau de 16séries dendrochronologiques a été mis en place le long d’un transect latitudinal dans les monts Qilian, au nord-est du plateau tibétain. Une analyse en composantes principales a révélé que les chronologies résiduelles avaient des valeurs positives le long de la première composante principale sans rotation (CP1). Après rotation, les plus grandes valeurs de la CP1 étaient associées aux stations les plus sèches dans le nord-ouest et les valeurs diminuaient vers le sud et vers l’est. La CP2 était négativement corrélée à l’altitude. La disponibilité en eau était un facteur limitatif dominant pour la croissance des arbres et cette dominance augmentait vers le nord et vers l’ouest le long d’un gradient de précipitations. Après rotation, les deux premières composantes principales ont divisé les 16 stations forestières en trois groupes principaux qui correspondaient aux trois régions influencées par la mousson est-asiatique, les vents d’ouest et leur interaction. Par conséquent, la variation spatiale de la croissance des arbres est un excellent bioindicateur du climat régional.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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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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