INSTITUTO ARGENTINO DE NIVOLOGIA, GLACIOLOGIA Y CIENCIAS AMBIENTALES
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Variations in the intrinsic water-use efficiency of North Patagonian forests under a present climate change scenario: Tree age, site conditions and long-term environmental effects
HELLE, G.; ARCO MOLINA, J.G.; ROIG, F.A.; HADAD, M.A.
OXFORD UNIV PRESS
Año: 2019 vol. 39 p. 661 - 678
The carbon isotope composition (δ13C) in tree rings were used to derive the intrinsic water-use efficiency (iWUE) of Araucaria araucana trees of Northern Patagonia along a strong precipitation gradient. It is well known that climatic and ontogenetic factors affect growth performance of this species but little is known about their influence in the physiological responses, as iWUE. Thus, the main objective of this study was to assess the physiological reactions of young and adult trees from two open xeric and two moderately dense mesic A. araucana forests to the increases in atmospheric CO2 (Ca) and air temperature during the 20th century, and to relate these responses with radial tree growth. The results indicated that the iWUE and the intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci) increased 33% and 32% in average during the last century, respectively, but carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) was more variable between sites and age classes. Trees from xeric sites presented greater iWUE and lower Δ13C and Ci values than those from mesic sites. In general, iWUE was strongly related with Ca and was significantly affected by mean summer maximum temperature. Δ13C from mesic sites seemed to be mainly affected by summer maximum temperature, while trees from xeric conditions did not show any influence. Tree age also presented a significant effect on iWUE. Adult trees showed higher iWUE values than young trees, indicating an incidence of the tree age and/or height, mainly in closed mesic forests. Moreover, some trees presented positive relationships between iWUE and radial tree growth, while others presented negative or no relationships, indicating that other factors May negatively influence tree growth. Broadly, the results demonstrate the incidence of climatic, environmental and ontogenetic variability in the tree responses; however, more studies are needed to better understand which forests will be more affected by actual and future climate changes.