Résumé - CAFD

Variation in intra-annual wood formation, and foliage and shoot development of three major Canadian boreal tree species.

Lihong Zhai, Yves Bergeron, Jianguo Huang, Frank Berninger.

Premise of the study: In a warming climate, boreal trees may have adjusted their growth strategy (e.g., onset and coordination of growth among different organs such as stem, shoot, and foliage, within and among species) to cope with the extended growing seasons. A detailed investigation into growth of different organs during a growing season may help us assess the potential effects of climate change on tree growth in the boreal forest.

Methods: The intra-annual growth of stem xylem, shoot tips, and foliage area of Pinus banksiana, Populus tremuloides, and Betula papyrifera was monitored in a boreal forest in Quebec, Canada during the growing season of 2007. Xylem formation was measured at weekly intervals, and shoot elongation and foliage expansion were measured three times per week from May to September. Growth indices for stem, shoot, and foliage were calculated and used to identify any climate–growth dependence.

Key results: The time periods required for stem growth, branch extension, and foliage expansion differed among species. Of the three species, P. banksiana had the earliest budburst (20 May) yet the latest completion date of the foliage growth (2 August); P. tremuloides had the latest budburst (27 May) yet the earliest completion date of the foliage growth (10 July). Air temperature positively affected shoot extension growth of all three species. Precipitation positively influenced stem growth of the two broadleaf species, whereas growing season temperature positively impacted stem growth of P. banksiana.

Conclusion: The results show that both the timing of growth processes and environmental dependences differ among co-occurring species, thereby leading to different adaptive capability of these boreal tree species to climate change.