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Comparison of growth–climate relationships between northern red oak and white oak across eastern North America

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The objective of this study was to evaluate growth–climate associations for northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) across much of its geographic range in eastern North America and to compare these associations with those of white oak (Quercus alba L.). Tree-ring and climate data were obtained for a total of 82 sites, including 51 sites where both oak species were sampled. Northern red oak radial growth was most strongly and spatially consistently correlated with site water balance variables for the early growing season (May through July). Correlations with prior year autumn and winter precipitation were also identified at a smaller number of sites. The phenology of growth–climate correlations was virtually identical between northern red oak and white oak, although there was modest evidence that correlations were stronger for white oak. These results support the hypothesis that species with similar wood anatomy, geographic distribution, and habitat preferences may have similar growth–climate relationships. This suggests that functional groups of tree species may be defined a priori based on existing knowledge of their wood anatomy and ecology.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, USA. 2: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, 1858 W. Grandview Boulevard, Erie, PA 16509, USA.

Publication date: October 8, 2011

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