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Mistletoe effects on Scots pine decline following drought events: Insights from within-tree spatial patterns, growth and carbohydrates

AuthorsSangüesa-Barreda, G. ; Linares, Juan Carlos; Camarero, Jesús Julio
Issue Date2012
PublisherHeron Publishing
CitationTree Physiology 32: 585- 598 (2012)
Abstract[EN] Forest decline has been attributed to the interaction of several stressors including biotic factors such as mistletoes and climate-induced drought stress. However, few data exist on how mistletoes are spatially arranged within trees and how this spatial pattern is related to changes in radial growth, responses to drought stress and carbon use. We used dendrochronology to quantify how mistletoe (Viscum album L.) infestation and drought stress affected long-term growth patterns in Pinus sylvestris L. at different heights. Basal area increment (BAI) trends and comparisons between trees of three different infestation degrees (without mistletoe, ID1; moderately infested trees, ID2; and severely infested trees, ID3) were performed using linear mixed-effects models. To identify the main climatic drivers of tree growth tree-ring widths were converted into indexed chronologies and related to climate data using correlation functions. We performed spatial analyses of the 3D distribution of mistletoe individuals and their ages within the crowns of three severely infested pines to describe their patterns. Lastly, we quantified carbohydrate and nitrogen concentrations in needles and sapwood of branches from severely infested trees and from trees without mistletoe. Mistletoe individuals formed strongly clustered groups of similar age within tree crowns and their age increased towards the crown apex. Mistletoe infestation negatively impacted growth but this effect was stronger near the tree apex than in the rest of sampled heights, causing an average loss of 64 in BAI (loss of BAI was ∼51 at 1.3m or near the tree base). We found that BAI of severely infested trees and moderately or non-infested trees diverged since 2001 and such divergence was magnified by drought. Infested trees had lower concentrations of soluble sugars in their needles than non-infested ones. We conclude that mistletoe infestation causes growth decline and increases the sensitivity of trees to drought stress. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tps031
Identifiersdoi: 10.1093/treephys/tps031
issn: 0829-318X
Appears in Collections:(IPE) Artículos
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