Current issue: 51(2)
Under compilation: 51(3)
The boreal timber- and tree-line forests grow in harsh environmental conditions in their outermost distribution limit. Here even small environmental changes may cause dramatic changes in the distribution of tree species. We examined changes of the forest lines of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) in Finnish Lapland five times during 1983–2009. We monitored the number of stems and the volume of the growing stock in thirteen different locations in forest-line areas. The linear temporal trends and the variations of these response variables were used as indicators of a possible change during the study period. Spruce showed a significant increase both in the volume of the growing stock (up to 40% increase) and in the total stem number (up to 100% increase). A significant increase in the volume of the growing stock was observed in the pine data as well (up to 70% increase), whereas the stem number stagnated or even decreased. The results suggest that spruce needs favourable conditions to have an abundant regeneration, but after the establishment the seedlings seem to be more resistant against biotic and abiotic disturbances than pine seedlings. The increasing stand volume might result in a climate-related northward and upward extension of forests in the future. However, our results show that responses in the boreal forest line are species and location specific and a more favourable climate does not necessarily lead to an advance of the coniferous forest line.
The effect of climatic factors on wood anatomy of the alien red oak (Quercus rubra L.) growing in three experimental plantations in Latvia was assessed by classical dendrochronological techniques. Two tree-ring proxies – tree-ring width (TRW) and mean area of earlywood vessel lumen (VLA) – were studied on 33 trees. Annual variation of TRW amongst trees was similar (mean r = 0.46), but there was more individuality in VLA (mean r = 0.26); nevertheless, chronologies of both proxies had rather synchronous variation amongst the sites. Annual variation of TRW was affected by factors related to water deficit in late summer, as suggested by the negative effect of temperature and positive effect of precipitation that have intensified during the 20th century, likely due to warming. Although weather conditions during the dormant period did not directly affect TRW, temperature during the autumn-spring period has been the main climatic determinant of VLA likely via influence on overwintering and hence vigour of tree. This suggests that conductive properties of wood and hence the susceptibility to water deficit have been affected by weather conditions before the formation of tree rings. During the 20th century, sensitivity of VLA has shifted from temperature in winter to temperature in autumn likely due to climate change. Still, the positive effect of these factors suggests that warming of climate would increase VLA and hence the risk of embolism and xylem disfunction. Therefore, the importance of availability of water for growth of red oak in Latvia is increasing.
To explore interactions between climate and peatland hydrology, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) growing at four raised bogs in southern Sweden were subject to a dendroclimatological study. Radial tree growth reflecting climate and water table fluctuations over multiannual periods was detected as significant negative correlations between tree-ring width (TRW) chronologies and the preceding one to four years total precipitation or river discharge. Systematically stronger negative correlations were obtained when river discharge instead of precipitation was compared to radial tree growth. This indicates that river discharge reflect moisture variability of peat bogs better than what precipitation data does. Meanwhile, monthly precipitation and radial tree growth did not show any clear correlation, whereas spring and early summer temperatures had a positive influence on the tree growth. Our study shows that growth variability of bog pines in the Boreal zone reflect hydrological responses related to a synthesis of climate controlled moisture variability over several year periods.
Vaccinium myrtillus L., Vaccinium uliginosum L. and Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. are perennial, cold-adapted clonal shrubs distributed throughout Europe, northern Asia and North America. Due to their usage in food (berries) and pharmaceutical industry (berries and leaves), their natural populations are exposed to anthropogenic and other impacts that affect their genetic make-up. We analyzed 14 fragmentary distributed and small-sized peripheral populations of these species from the Balkans, which represents the southeastern-European marginal area of their wide European distributions, using RAPD molecular markers. The contemporary genetic patterns in all three species within the Balkans were generally similar, and in comparison to previous reports on populations of these species found in northward Europe, where they have a more continuous distribution, the levels of genetic diversity were more or less halved, genetic differentiation was several times higher, gene flow exceptionally low, and the expected prevalence of clonal individuals was lacking. The population dynamics of all three species within the Balkans was complex and distinct, and was characterized by a past admixture of individuals from discrete populations of the same species and interspecific hybridisation not only between V. myrtillus and V. vitis-idaea but also between V. uliginosum and V. vitis-idaea, the latter not being reported to date. Conservation measures suitable for preservation of presumably genetically distinct portions of the Balkans’ gene pools of studied species have been suggested, while the utility of interspecific hybrids in breeding programs and/ or in food/pharmaceutical industry is yet to be assessed.
Seed orchards are the link between tree breeding and reforestation. This paper presents data on cone, seed and pollen production and seed quality gathered over 21 years in a Pinus sylvestris (L.) experimental seed orchard containing plots with 14 different combinations of stand density and targeted pruning height. The treatments’ stand densities ranged from 267 to 4000 stems ha-1, and the target graft heights ranged from 2 to 6 meters. Pollen production began at the same orchard age for all studied combinations of stand density and target height but the level of pollen production per hectare increased more rapidly in treatments with higher stand densities. In treatments with dense spacing, cone and seed production initially increased more rapidly than in treatments with wider spacing, thereby providing an earlier return on investment and a shorter seed production lag time. However, the levels of cone and seed production in such treatments over the entire study period were not appreciably different to those achieved in treatments with wider spacing and higher target height. The treatments did not differ substantially with respect to seed quality. These results show that comparable levels of seed production can be obtained with different combinations of stand density and target height, giving seed orchard owners and managers a wide range of viable management options.
English yew (Taxus baccata L.) is a strictly outcrossing and dioecious species whose populations are small and isolated. It is known that sex ratios may vary in natural populations due to local environmental conditions or stochastic events. However, unbalanced sex ratios may have negative impacts on genetic diversity through enhanced genetic drift and inbreeding. The present study represents one of the first attempts to compare the genetic variation at microsatellite loci within and between populations with different gender proportions. Our results indicated that there were no significant correlations between sex ratio and the extent of genetic variation in different populations. All populations exhibited high levels of genetic diversity. Additionally, the genetic structure was characterized separately in male and female individuals. Statistical analyses of the set estimators describing the genetic structure of male and female individuals of T. baccata revealed no significant differences between the two groups. Molecular analysis verified that microsatellite nuclear loci neutrality developed for T. baccata, as there were no significant differences in the genetic variation between males and females and no evidence for any outlier loci using coalescent and hierarchical Bayesian simulations. The results demonstrate that ignoring biased sex ratios in T. baccata populations had no effect on the assessment of genetic differentiation and genetic diversity within and between populations of this species. These results are discussed with regards to the practical application of molecular markers in conservation programs.
Tree-ring width (TRW) and maximum latewood density (MXD) data of Faxon fir (Abies faxoniana Rehd. et Wils.) were analyzed for five timberline sites in the western Qinling Mountains and northeastern Tibetan Plateau, to investigate their relationships to climate change, especially twentieth century warming. The cross-correlations among TRW chronologies at the low-frequency band were higher, while the higher correlations among MXD chronologies were found at the high-frequency band. Response analysis showed that the tree-ring formation of fir trees was significantly and positively affected by temperature variations, while it was also negatively affected by precipitation. The TRW series captured the warming trends and allowed detecting the recent warming in a long-term context, while the MXD series showed no upward trend. We also found the temperature sensitivity of the TRW series is unstable over space and time. The divergent response between TRW and MXD might be caused by the seasonal variations of warming trends.
This study compares the responses of two Swedish 5-year predictive stand-level functions with the observed responses in 721 fertilization experiment plots in Norway fertilized with nitrogen (N). All plots are single-species consisting of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) or Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) fertilized with ammonium nitrate (AN) or urea. The correlations between the observed and the two predicted responses were 0.34–0.40 for all plots taken together. One response function performed well on average, but underestimated the response in pine plots and overestimated the response in spruce plots. The second function overpredicted the response on the full dataset, in spruce plots and old forest, but performed well in pine plots. Both functions overestimated the growth response in high-productive plots. Higher N deposition in Norway than in Sweden may count for parts of the deviations. Testing of fertilization functions on new datasets is rare, but important part of the evaluation of functions. As the functions are not well fit for predicting the growth response in spruce and high-productive plots in our sample, new functions that include N deposition are welcome.
Saprotrophic wood-decaying abilities of Rigidoporus microporus (Polyporales, Basidiomycota) syn. Rigidoporus lignosus and the structural alterations induced in wood blocks of Hevea brasiliensis Muell. Arg were studied. Mass loss of wood blocks was analyzed after 3 and 6 months respectively and the patterns of decay by pathogenic and endophytic isolates of this fungus were investigated using light microscopy. Effects of temperature on growth of the isolates on malt extract agar were also investigated. The R. microporus isolated from a non-H. brasiliensis host caused the highest percentage mass loss (27.2% after 6 months), followed by isolates ED310 (21.1%) and M13 (15.7%), both collected from diseased H. brasiliensis plantations. The isolate initially identified as an endophyte showed very low saprotrophic wood decay capability (4.3% after 6 months). The optimal temperature for growth of the isolates was 30 °C; except for the endophytic isolate which showed highest growth at 25 °C. Wood samples degraded by the R. microporus isolates showed simultaneous attack of wood cell walls, typical of white rot fungi. Results of the study indicate variability in the wood degrading abilities of the isolates and the potential differences in their physiology are discussed. Our findings further support the need for a taxonomical revision of the Rigidoporus genus.
Species-specific allometric equations for shrubs and small trees are relatively scarce, thus limiting the precise quantification of aboveground biomass (AGB) in both shrubby vegetation and forests. Fourteen shrub and small tree species in Eastern China were selected to develop species-specific and multispecies allometric biomass equations. Biometric variables, including the diameter of the longest stem (D), height (H), wet basic density (BD), and crown area and shape were measured for each individual plant. We measured the AGB through a non-destructive method, and validated these measurements using the dry mass of the sampled plant components. The AGB was related to biometric variables using regression analysis. The species-specific allometric models, with D and H as predictors (D-H models) accounted for 70% to 99% of the variation in the AGB of shrubs and small trees. A multispecies allometric D-H model accounted for 71% of the variation in the AGB. Although BD, as an additional predictor, improved the fit of most models, the D-H models were adequate for predicting the AGB for shrubs and small trees in subtropical China without BD data.
This paper is based on a session “How to make forest science available for all? Publishers’, editors’, and authors’ challenges” at the IUFRO XXIV world conference, organized by Pekka Nygren and Eeva Korpilahti from the Finnish Society of Forest Science. The presenters dealt with the topical problems of publishing scientific knowledge from different perspectives. The talks covered the development of journals, publications and submissions, benefits and drawbacks of open access publishing as well as electronic and traditional publishing, and possibilities to promote interesting papers either from the journal’s or from the author’s perspective, and the problems of disseminating the scientific results to the end users. In this paper, a few prevalent viewpoints, inspired by the session, are raised and discussed with some suggestions included.