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Anomalous ring identification in two Australian subtropical Araucariaceae species permits annual ring dating and growth-climate relationship development
- Haines, Heather A., Olley, Jon M., English, Nathan B., Hua, Quan
- Dendrochronologia 2018 v.49 pp. 16-28
- Araucaria bidwillii, Araucaria cunninghamii, climatic factors, dendroclimatology, dendrometers, growth rings, radiocarbon dating, rain, subtropics, temperature, tree growth, trees, Queensland
- Almost all Australian tropical and subtropical regions lack annually-resolved long-term (multi-decadal to centennial scale) instrumental climate records. Reconstructing climate in these regions requires the use of sparse climate proxy records such as tree rings. Tree rings often archive annually-resolved centennial-scale climate information. However, many tropical and subtropical species have short life-spans, the timbers are poorly preserved, and there is a belief that the proxy records of these species are often compromised by ring anomalies. Additionally, for many species the relationship between climate (e.g. temperature and/or rainfall) and tree growth has not been established. These factors have led to tree-ring data being underutilized in the Australian subtropics. Trees in the Araucariaceae family, a common family in northern and eastern Australia, are both longer lived than many species in the Australian subtropics, present growth rings that are annual in nature, and their growth is known to vary with climate. In this study we examine two subtropical Araucariaceae species, Araucaria cunninghamii and Araucaria bidwillii, and quantify the relationship between their radial growth and climate variability. Ring anomalies including false, faint, locally absent, and pinching rings, are found to be present in these species, however, bomb-pulse radiocarbon dating of A. cunninghamii samples together with a whole tree approach helped to identify annual growth patterns despite such anomalous ring boundaries. Additionally, to determine which climate variables most influence growth in these species, dendrometers were installed at two locations in subtropical Southeast Queensland, Australia. We found that rainfall variability drives annual ring growth, while temperature constrains the onset and conclusion of the growth season each year. Our results demonstrate that through the use of A. cunninghamii and A. bidwillii trees which demonstrate annual growth in relation to climate variables there is potential to develop centennial scale climate reconstructions from the Australian subtropics. We provide recommendations on how to best identify ring anomalies in these species to help in the future development of long-term chronologies and climate reconstructions.