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Physiological performance of silver-fir (Abies alba Mill.) populations under contrasting climates near the south-western distribution limit of the species

AuthorsPeguero Pina, José Javier; Camarero, Jesús Julio CSIC ORCID ; Abadía Bayona, Anunciación CSIC ORCID ; Martín Bernal, Enrique; González-Cascón, Rosario; Morales Iribas, Fermín CSIC ORCID; Gil-Pelegrín, Eustaquio
KeywordsClimatic warming
Gas exchange
Leaf-to-air vapour pressure difference
Issue Date26-Mar-2007
CitationFlora - Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants 202(3): 226-236 (2007)
AbstractSilver-fir (Abies alba Mill.) populations located at the south side of the main Pyrenean axis and Pre-Pyrenees constitute the south-western distribution limit of the species and, therefore, may be responding more noticeably to climate change than those in the centre of the range. The increasing aridity detected in the Pyrenees during the 20th century should affect more negatively the physiological performance of the southernmost silver-fir stand growing under more xeric conditions in comparison with stands growing within the main distribution area under mesic conditions. To evaluate the climatic influence on the performance of silver fir near its distribution limit, we studied several physiological and growth variables in shoots and needles from two silver fir populations located in nearby but climatically contrasting sites: Paco Ezpela (site E) and Gamueta (site G). Site E showed a stronger Mediterranean influence than site G, i.e. the former site was characterized by higher temperatures and leaf-to-air water vapour pressure difference and lower precipitation in summer than the latter site. Silver firs from site E showed lower values of primary and secondary growth, needle length, stomatal conductance, net photosynthesis and photosystem II (PSII) efficiency than individuals from site G. The reduction in net photosynthesis could be ascribed to a low CO2 availability and to a lower PSII efficiency. We conclude that the physiological differences found between both sites were caused by the more xeric conditions of site E as compared with the more mesic environment in site G. The predicted increase of severe droughts in the southern Pyrenees might cause a decrease in photosynthesis and growth in those silver-fir stands located near the ecological limit of the species.
Description11 pages, 6 figures, 3 tables.-- Printed version published May 22, 2007.
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