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Recent and intense dynamics in a formerly static pyrenean treeline

AuthorsCamarero, Jesús Julio CSIC ORCID ; García-Ruiz, José María CSIC ORCID ; Sangüesa-Barreda, G. CSIC ORCID ; Galván, Juan Diego CSIC; Alla, A. Q. CSIC ORCID; Sanjuán, Yasmina CSIC; Beguería, Santiago CSIC ORCID ; Gutiérrez, Emilia
Issue DateNov-2015
CitationCamarero JJ, García-Ruiz JM, Sangüesa-Barreda G, Galván JD, Alla AQ, Sanjuán Y, Beguería S, Gutiérrez E. Recent and intense dynamics in a formerly static pyrenean treeline. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 47 (4): 773-783 (2015)
AbstractAlpine treelines are considered monitors of the effects of climate on forest growth and dynamics. Treelines are expected to react to current climate warming by showing upslope migrations. However, treeline dynamics are often characterized by lagged responses to rising temperatures, that is, treeline inertia. In addition, encroachment within the treeline ecotone seems to be a more widespread response to climate warming than treeline ascent. We investigate how the treeline responds to climate in a Pyrenean site with an intense Mountain pine (Pinus uncinata) regeneration but also abundant dead trees. We use dendrochronology to reconstruct treeline dynamics (growth, tree recruitment, and death) and to build an age structure of Pyrenean Mountain pine forests, and relate them to temperature reconstructions of the study area. We also describe the spatial structure and estimate the size reproductive threshold of pine recruits. The study treeline showed profuse pine recruitment in the 1980s. These recruits were spatially aggregated and reached the 50% probability of reproduction at 24 years old. Most Pyrenean Mountain pines were recruited in the first half of the 18th century, a warm period when growth was stable, while old treeline trees recruited not only in those decades but also in previous warm periods. Pine deaths concentrated in the cool transition between the mid 17th and the early 18th centuries and mainly from 1820 to 1860, when growth declined as a consequence of temperatures rapidly dropping at the end of the Little Ice Age. Only the amount of dead pines at the treeline was negatively related to temperatures, indicating that cool periods cause high adult mortality rates and trigger long-term treeline decline. But this decline was interrupted by intense regeneration and treeline encroachment, two features that characterize recent treeline dynamics in some mountains. This concurs with the view of a rapid response of alpine treelines to climate during the late 20th century.
Description11 Pags.- 3 Tabls.- 5 Figs.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1657/AAAR0015-001
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