Tree ring research on conifers in the Alps
Dendroecology, dendroclimatology and climatic studies

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Rolland C., Michalet R., Desplanque C., Petetin A., Aimé S. (1999). Ecological requirements of Abies alba in the French Alps derived from dendro-ecological analysis. Journal of Vegetation Science 10: 297-306.
  • TITLE Ecological requirements of Abies alba in the French Alps derived from dendro-ecological analysis.
  • LANGUAGE English , with English abstract.
  • SPECIES Abies alba Mill. and  herbaceous plants growing in fir forests.
  • KEY WORDS Silver fir, Correspondance Analysis, Phytosociology, Dendroecology, Pointer years, Drought, Forest community, Frost, Growth, Response function, Tree rings.
  • MOTS CLES Sapin, Analyse des Correspondances, Phytosociologie, Dendroécologie, Années caractéristiques, Sécheresse, Communauté forestière, Gel, Croissance, Fonction de réponse, Cernes de croissance.
  • SITES Trièves region (France).
  • ABSTRACT (English)

  • We used dendro-ecological techniques to investigate fundamental relationships between climate and growth of Abies alba (silver fir) in eastern France. Seven kinds of Abies forests in the Trièves region of the French Alps were chosen to represent a wide range of ecological conditions based on the results of previous forest vegetation surveys. In each forest, four trees were sampled in each of five different stands with two cores per tree. These 280 cores were studied using two separate dendro-ecological methods: the pointer years method (based on extreme growth events), and correlation functions between tree ring-widths and monthly climatic data. Data from 11 meteorological stations were combined to provide a regional analysis of precipitation and minimum and maximum temperatures. The two dendro-ecological methods appear to be complementary, as the first technique emphasizes common and low intensity linear correlations between ring-widths and climatic variations, and the second method emphasizes extreme and unusual climatic events such as exceptionally cold or dry years.
    Across all sites, drought in the previous year was consistently correlated with a low growth rate: however, other climatic variables varied substantially among sites. For example, drought in the current year reduced growth more in the low elevation sites than in the high elevation sites and severe winter frost reduced growth the most in the high altitude sites and the driest site. Moreover, certain growth responses are better correlated with the age of the stands, the canopy closure and the floristic composition of the community than the abiotic factors, emphasizing the value of dendro-ecological sampling based on phytosociological units.
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