Event Title

Wood Anatomy of Arbutus unedo Reflects Site-Specific Responses to Increased Drought Frequency

Event Website

http://www.nafew2009.org/

Start Date

23-6-2009 8:40 AM

End Date

23-6-2009 9:00 AM

Description

Recently, the Mediterranean region has experienced unprecedented drought. Climate models predict an increase in drought frequency and duration. Therefore, quantifying the response of Mediterranean plants to drought is important. We contrasted wood anatomy and dendroecological features of a Mediterranean shrub, Arbutus unedo, at a xeric and a mesic site on the Italian island of Elba. Radial microsections of Arbutus unedo were stained, described, and crossdated. Annual ring widths of radial microsections were measured and compared with regional temperature and precipitation. False rings are common and distinguishable from true annual ring boundaries only by viewing radial microsections under high magnification. False ring formation was more common at the xeric site and was caused by below average rainfall in late summer (xeric site) and below average rainfall and high temperatures in spring and summer (mesic site). Given the predictions for increased drought, plants currently growing at mesic sites will likely adopt the growth patterns of plants currently growing at xeric sites. Thus, late summer precipitation will limit growth rates for woody plants. Arbutus unedo demonstrated its dendroecological value and future work on climate initiated shifts in Mediterranean vegetation should take advantage of the potential found in annual ring records of shrubs.

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Jun 23rd, 8:40 AM Jun 23rd, 9:00 AM

Wood Anatomy of Arbutus unedo Reflects Site-Specific Responses to Increased Drought Frequency

Recently, the Mediterranean region has experienced unprecedented drought. Climate models predict an increase in drought frequency and duration. Therefore, quantifying the response of Mediterranean plants to drought is important. We contrasted wood anatomy and dendroecological features of a Mediterranean shrub, Arbutus unedo, at a xeric and a mesic site on the Italian island of Elba. Radial microsections of Arbutus unedo were stained, described, and crossdated. Annual ring widths of radial microsections were measured and compared with regional temperature and precipitation. False rings are common and distinguishable from true annual ring boundaries only by viewing radial microsections under high magnification. False ring formation was more common at the xeric site and was caused by below average rainfall in late summer (xeric site) and below average rainfall and high temperatures in spring and summer (mesic site). Given the predictions for increased drought, plants currently growing at mesic sites will likely adopt the growth patterns of plants currently growing at xeric sites. Thus, late summer precipitation will limit growth rates for woody plants. Arbutus unedo demonstrated its dendroecological value and future work on climate initiated shifts in Mediterranean vegetation should take advantage of the potential found in annual ring records of shrubs.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nafecology/sessions/processes/7