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Tree-ring patterns and climate response of Mediterranean fir populations in Central Greece

Papadopoulos, Andreas
Dendrochronologia 2016 v.40 pp. 17-25
Abies cephalonica, atmospheric precipitation, climate change, climatic factors, correlation, decline, dendroclimatology, drought, fires, forests, growing season, growth rings, phenotype, spring, summer, temperature, Greece
Central Greece is the distribution common area of the endemic fir species Abies cephalonica and Abies borisii-regis. Forests fires and fir decline are some of the problems both species encountered during the past decades, with these problems being exacerbated lately by climate change. The present research investigates tree-ring patterns and climate responses of three fir populations along a latitudinal gradient in Central Greece. All three populations were homogeneous in their dendrometric, silvicultural and site characteristics but were phenotypically different. The analysis of tree-ring widths site chronologies revealed that 59% of their variability interprets common tree-ring patterns whereas another 25% interprets their differences as they appear from a south to north direction. This variability in tree-ring widths is proportional to the variability observed for precipitation, temperature and drought from a south to north direction in this region. The tree-ring to climate relationships revealed that the main climatic factor affecting fir tree-ring width is late spring and summer precipitation to which is positively correlated. Also, tree-ring widths were positively affected by the temperatures of the October and April before the growing season. However, June drought adversely affected tree-ring widths of the northern site while it positively affected them at the beginning of the spring season, especially for the southern site and in September for the northern sites. All dendrochronological statistics, tree-ring patterns and climate-growth relationships show a south to north trend following the climatic and phenotypic (species) variation observed to the same direction for fir populations in Central Greece.