Current issue: 54(2)
Topographic complexity in mountainous ecosystems strongly influences plant growth and as such also wood formation. This wood formation can possibly be used to understand topographic variation of the main climatic drivers, e.g. by modulating frost events. Here we test the influence of different slope exposures on the spatio-temporal distribution of frost rings in Siberian spruce (Picea obovata Ledeb.) in the Southern Urals, Russia. We sampled on two opposite slopes, northeast (NE) and southwest (SW), on three elevation levels from the highest single trees to closed canopy forest and analysed frost ring occurrence and their seasonal timing. Frost ring formation at all exposure-elevation combinations was common and mainly concentrated in the early part of the growing season. The age until trees record frost rings was equally similar (until about 35 years) on both slopes and different elevational levels with the exception of the climatically harshest site, the highest elevation on the NE slope. While we could not deduce a direct, easily identifiable climatic driver for the formation of frost rings, our analysis shows high potential to disentangle the complex interplay between climate, site condition and tree growth in mountainous ecosystems.
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 study deals with the preconditions for natural regeneration of the pine at the polar tree line in northern Finland and Sweden. The data has been collected in three summers from 1909 to 1911 in areas of Inari and Utsjoki in Finland and Kaaresuvanto, Jukkasjärvi und Pajala in Sweden. The yearly variation of seed production of pine is studied and compared with the age of the stand, site factors and weather conditions.
Intensity of reproduction is dependent on different preconditions for pistils and stamens and hence the total reproduction (formation of cones) can vary very much depending on the weather.According the study, the formation of cones varies yearly and is particularly strong every three to four years. Supposedly the same model applies to whole polar tree line of the Fennoscandia. There seem to be no difference between northern and southern parts of Scandinavia when it comes to frequency of good cone years though they not always occur in the same years.