Return to CIG

Search

View All Publications

Go To Publication by Year:

View Publications by Topic:

Adaptation

Agriculture

Air Quality

Aquatic Ecosystems and Fisheries

Background Papers

Climate: Atmospheric Modeling

Climate: Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean Modeling

Climate: Diagnostics

Climate: Global Climate

Climate: Ocean Modeling

Climate: PNW Climate

Climate: Regional Climate Modeling

Coastal Ecosystems

Coastal Environments

Conservation Biology

Data Analysis and Sharing

Energy

Fact Sheets

Forecasts and Applications

Forest Ecosystems

Human Health

Hydrology and Water Resources

Infrastructure

Integrated Assessment

Ocean Acidification

Oceanography

Program Documents

Science Advisory Reports

Societal Dimensions

Special Reports

Theses and Dissertations

View Publications by Author:

Search the Publication Abstracts:


Other CSES Links:

About CSES

CSES Personnel

Data / Links

Publications

Welcome to the publications directory for the Climate Impacts Group and the Climate Dynamics Group. Please contact the web administrator for assistance with any of these publications.


View: Abstract

Douglas-fir growth in mountain ecosystems: Water limits tree growth from stand to region

Littell, J.S., D.L. Peterson, and M. Tjoelker. 2008. Douglas-fir growth in mountain ecosystems: Water limits tree growth from stand to region. Ecological Monographs 78(3): 349-368.

Abstract

The purpose of this work is to understand the nature of growth-climate relationships for Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) across the climatic dimensions of its niche. We used a combination of biophysically informed sampling (to identify sample sites) and dendroclimatology (to identify growth-climate relationships) along a climate gradient in northwestern United States mountain ecosystems from the western Olympic Peninsula, Washington to the eastern Rocky Mountain Front, Montana. We used a multi-scale sampling strategy that accounted for continentality, physiography, and topography as non-climatic factors that could influence climate and alter tree growth. We developed a network of 124 Douglas-fir tree-ring chronologies and explored growth-climate correlations across the sampled gradients. We considered two different spatial scales of monthly and seasonal climate variables as potential controlling factors on tree growth.

Annual radial growth in 60-65% of the plots across the region is significantly correlated with precipitation, drought, or water balance during the late summer prior to growth and the early summer the year of growth. In a few plots, growth is positively correlated with cool-season temperature or negatively correlated with snowpack. Water availability is therefore more commonly limiting to Douglas-fir growth than energy limitations on growing season length. The first principal component derived from the chronologies is significantly correlated with independent drought reconstructions. The sensitivity of Douglas-fir to summer water balance deficit (potential evapotranspiration minus actual evapotranspiration) indicates that increases in April to September temperature without increases in summer precipitation or soil moisture reserves are likely to cause decreases in growth over much of the sampled area, especially east of the Cascade crest. In contrast, Douglas-fir may exhibit growth increases at some higher elevation sites where seasonal photosynthesis is currently limited by growing-season length or low growing-season temperature. Life-history processes such as establishment, growth, and mortality are precursors to changes in biogeography, and measurements of climate effects on those processes can provide early indications of climate-change effects on ecosystems.