Increased whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) growth and defense under a warmer and regionally drier climate
Introduction: Tree defense characteristics play a crucial role in modulating conifer bark beetle interactions, and there is a growing body of literature investigating factors mediating tree growth and resin-based defenses in conifers. A subset of studies have looked at relationships between tree growth, resin duct morphology and climate; however, these studies are almost exclusively from lower-elevation, moisture-limited systems. The relationship between resin ducts and climate in higher-elevation, energy-limited ecosystems is currently poorly understood.
Methods: In this study, we: (1) evaluated the relationship between biological trends in tree growth, resin duct anatomy, and climatic variability and (2) determined if tree growth and resin duct morphology of whitebark pine, a high-elevation conifer of management concern, is constrained by climate and/or regional drought conditions.
Results: We found that high-elevation whitebark pine trees growing in an energy-limited system experienced increased growth and defense under warmer and regionally drier conditions, with climate variables explaining a substantive proportion of variation (∼20–31%) in tree diameter growth and resin duct anatomy.
Discussion: Our results suggest that whitebark pine growth and defense was historically limited by short growing seasons in high-elevation environments; however, this relationship may change in the future with prolonged warming conditions.
|Increased whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) growth and defense under a warmer and regionally drier climate
|Nicholas E. Kichas, Gregory T. Pederson, Sharon M. Hood, Richard G. Everett, David B. McWethy
|Frontiers in Forests and Global Change
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center