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Title: Nonlinear responses of white spruce growth to climate variability in interior Alaska
Author: Lloyd, A.H.; Duffy, P.A.; Mann, D.H.;
Source: Canadian Journal of Forest Research
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Description: Ongoing warming at high latitudes is expected to lead to large changes in the structure and function of boreal forests. Our objective in this research is to determine the climatic controls over the growth of white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) at the warmest driest margins of its range in interior Alaska. We then use those relationships to determine the climate variables most likely to limit future growth. We collected tree cores from white spruce trees growing on steep, south-facing river bluffs at five sites in interior Alaska, and analyzed the relationship between ring widths and climate using boosted regression trees. Precipitation and temperature of the previous growing season are important controls over growth at most sites: trees grow best in the coolest, wettest years. We identify clear thresholds in growth response to a number of variables, including both temperature and precipitation variables. General circulation model (GCM) projections of future climate in this region suggest that optimum climatic conditions for white spruce growth will become increasingly rare in the future. This is likely to cause short-term declines in productivity and, over the longer term, probably lead to a contraction of white spruce to the cooler, moister parts of its range in Alaska.
Keywords: white spruce, Alaska, climate variability
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Lloyd, A.H.; Duffy, P.A.; Mann, D.H. 2013. Nonlinear responses of white spruce growth to climate variability in interior Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 43: 331-343.
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