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Climate-induced mortality of Siberian pine and fir in the Lake Baikal Watershed, Siberia

Kharuk, Viacheslav I., Im, Sergei T., Petrov, Ilya A., Golyukov, Alexei S., Ranson, Kenneth J., Yagunov, Mikhail N.
Forest ecology and management 2017 v.384 pp. 191-199
Abies sibirica, Betula, Larix sibirica, Pinus sibirica, Pinus sylvestris, climate, conifers, drought, drought tolerance, dry environmental conditions, growth rings, insects, mortality, rhizosphere, risk, soil water, tree mortality, vapor pressure, water stress, watersheds, Lake Baikal, Siberia
Siberian pine (Pinus sibirica) and fir (Abies sibirica) (so called “dark needle conifers”, DNC) showed decreased radial growth increment within the Lake Baikal watershed since the 1980s with increasing mortality recorded since the year 2000. Tree ring width was strongly correlated with vapor pressure deficit, aridity and root zone moisture. Water stress from droughts made trees more susceptible to insect attacks causing mortality in about 10% of DNC stands within the Lake Baikal watershed.Within Siberia DNC mortality increased in the southern part of the DNC range. Biogeographically, tree mortality was located within the DNC – forest-steppes transition. Tree mortality was significantly correlated with drought and soil moisture anomalies. Within the interior of the DNC range mortality occurred within relief features with high water stress risk (i.e., steep convex south facing slopes with shallow well-drained soils). In general, DNC mortality in Siberia was induced by increased aridity and severe drought (inciting factors) in synergy with biotic attacks (contributing factor). In future climate scenarios with predicted increase in aridity DNC could be eliminated from the southern part of its current range and will be replaced by drought-resistant conifers and broadleaf species (e.g., Larix sibirica, Pinus silvestris, and Betula pubescence).