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Intra-annual wood anatomical features of high-elevation conifers in the Great Basin, USA

Ziaco, Emanuele, Biondi, Franco, Rossi, Sergio, Deslauriers, Annie
Dendrochronologia 2014 v.32 no.4 pp. 303-312
Abies concolor, Picea engelmannii, Pinus flexilis, Pinus longaeva, Pseudotsuga menziesii, basins, cell walls, conifers, earlywood, environmental factors, latewood, paleoclimatology, principal component analysis, trees, wood, Great Basin States, Nevada
Mountain conifers in the Great Basin of North America have provided some of the longest, continuous, and annually resolved paleoclimate records. Climate-growth relationships at the cellular level, which help understand wood formation processes that underlie dendroclimatic reconstructions, are at present largely unexplored in the Great Basin. We analyzed 42 trees located in the Snake Range (eastern Nevada, USA) at three sites along an elevation gradient. Sampled species included white fir (Abies concolor), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), limber pine (Pinus flexilis), bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva), and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii). Wood anatomical features were quantified for two consecutive years, 2011 and 2012. Lumen area, cell wall thickness, lumen diameter, and wall-to-cell ratio were measured for the total ring as well as for earlywood and latewood. Mean standardized tracheidograms highlighted differences between 2011 and 2012, in particular concerning lumen area and wall-to-cell ratio. Most annual variation was due to earlywood, rather than latewood. Anatomical parameters of limber pine, the only species that could be tested at both the montane and subalpine sites, varied with elevation. Principal component analysis showed that the main axis of variability was related to dimensional parameters (e.g. lumen area), which reflected differences in water availability.