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Investigating the possible impact of atmospheric CO2 increase on Araucaria araucana wood density

Pinto, Paulina E., Bontemps, Jean-Daniel, Pierrat, Jean-Claude, Franceschini, Tony, Gelhaye, Pierre, Gégout, Jean-Claude, Leban, J. M.
European journal of forest research 2016 v.135 no.2 pp. 389-401
Araucaria araucana, X-radiation, anthropogenic activities, atmospheric deposition, biomass, cambium, carbon dioxide, climate change, evolution, geographical distribution, statistical models, temperate forests, trees, wood density, Andes region, Chile
Our aim was to investigate the possible enhancing role of long-term atmospheric CO₂ increase on wood density as an essential component of biomass sequestration. We therefore assessed the long-term evolution of wood density over pre-industrial and contemporary periods, in a regional context free of management practices, atmospheric deposition and with restricted climatic change. Dominant trees of Araucaria araucana were sampled in 37 stands distributed throughout its natural distribution over temperate forests of the Chilean Andes Cordillera. Mean ring density (MRD) at 1.30 m was measured by X-ray micro-densitometry. A third-century MRD chronology was built after MRD standardisation by the effects of cambial age and radial growth, simultaneously estimated from a statistical model from rings of the pre-industrial period (1700–1850) to avoid any temporal bias. The age-alone standardised MRD chronology showed restricted fluctuations ranging between 2.0 and 3.2 % over the last three centuries. Multi-decennial fluctuations between ring width and MRD were found qualitatively synchronous and opposed. Accordingly, MRD fluctuations were removed with the age and growth standardisation, highlighting the absence of a historical wood density trend at constant ring size over the whole period. Over the most recent decades however, a slight increase in density was identified, with loss of synchronisation to radial growth. The absence of a long-term signal in wood density of A. araucana, in a context of restricted anthropogenic influence, differs markedly from reports of significant decreases in the Northern Hemisphere. We conclude as part of the analysis done that until now, increasing atmospheric CO₂ unlikely would have an impact in wood density.