Article: article from journal or magazin.
Effects of climate and land-use change on establishment and growth of cembran pine (Pinus cembra L.) over the timberline-treeline ecotone in the Central Swiss Alps
Arctic Antarctic and Alpine Research
Tree growth is generally limited by temperature in cold climates and by water availability in and zones. Establishment in altitudinal treeline ecotones depends on the temperature, but may be very sensitive to water availability as well. We studied the effect of climate and land use on the colonization and growth of Pinus cembra in the treeline ecotone of the dry Central Swiss Alps; one site was influenced by timber harvest and cattle activity and another one was undisturbed. Stands were sampled at three elevations: in the forest and the lower and upper parts of the treeline ecotone. The age structure was similar in all sites, ranging from uneven-aged (forest) to more even-aged, with recent densitication and upslope expansion of the treeline ecotone. However, recruitment started at the treeline around 1850 (the end of the Little Ice Age) in the undisturbed site, simultaneously with an increase of tree-ring growth, but about 60 years later at the other site, after cattle grazing decreased. These results, and the positive correlation of radial growth with summer and previous autumn temperatures indicated that, in this altitudinal treeline ecotone, growth and establishment are mainly linked to temperature. However, drought stress was visible in the lowest stands, with a positive correlation of growth with rainfall during the previous autumn and December, and in August of the growing season. This could limit growth in a future warmer climate.
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