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Increased aridity is associated with stronger tradeoffs in ponderosa pine vital functions

June 11, 2023

Trees must allocate resources to core functions like growth, defense, and reproduction. These allocation patterns have profound effects on forest health, yet little is known about how core functions trade off over time, and even less is known about how a changing climate will impact tradeoffs. We conducted a 21-year survey of growth, defense, and reproduction in 80 ponderosa pine individuals spanning eight populations across environmental gradients along the Colorado Front Range, USA. We used linear mixed models to describe tradeoffs among these functions and to characterize variability among and within individuals over time. Growth and defense were lower in years of high cone production, and local drought conditions amplified year-to-year tradeoffs between reproduction and growth, where trees located at sites with hotter and drier climates showed stronger tradeoffs between reproduction and growth. Our results support the environmental stress hypothesis of masting, which predicts that greater interannual variation in tree functions will be associated with more marginal environments, such as those that are prone to drought. With warming temperatures and increased exposure to drought stress, trees will be faced with stronger interannual tradeoffs, which could lead to further decreases in growth and defensive efforts, ultimately increasing risks of mortality.

Publication Year 2023
Title Increased aridity is associated with stronger tradeoffs in ponderosa pine vital functions
DOI 10.1002/ecy.4120
Authors Angela Gonzalez, Ian Pearse, Miranda Redmond
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology
Index ID 70249175
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center