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Tree-ring variation, wood formation and phenology of beech (Fagus sylvatica) from a representative site in Slovenia, SE Central Europe

Čufar, Katarina, Prislan, Peter, de Luis, Martin, Gričar, Jozica
Trees 2008 v.22 no.6 pp. 749-758
Fagus sylvatica, cambium, cell division, climate, forests, leaves, phenology, temperature, trees, wood, Central European region, Slovenia
Long-term variation in tree-ring widths (1873-2006) and intra-annual dynamics of cambial activity and tree-ring formation in 2006 were studied in mature beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) trees at a typical forest site near Ljubljana (46°N, 14°40'E, 400 m a.s.l.) and related to leaf phenology and climate data. Tree-ring widths were negatively affected by minimum March and maximum August temperatures and favoured by May and July precipitation. Precipitation of the previous August and temperature of the previous November also had a positive effect. Leaf unfolding was affected by March and April temperatures, occurring later if they were low. Leaf yellowing was positively affected by minimum July temperatures and negatively by September precipitation. In 2006, leaf unfolding occurred on 16 April and was immediately followed by reactivation of cambium at breast height of the trees. One week later, the cambium obtained its maximum width (around 11 cell layers) and the rate of division increased until the end of May/beginning of June. By the end of June, 75% of the tree-ring was formed. Cambial cell divisions stopped from the end of July to mid-August. The average time of cambial activity was 100 days. Leaf yellowing occurred at the end of October, i.e. nearly 2 months after the cessation of cambial cell division. We discuss the usefulness of a combination of long-term (tree-ring width and phenology) and short-term (wood formation at a cellular level) data to understand better the environmental signals registered by a tree during growth.