THE EFFECTS OF DROUGHT ON WOOD FORMATION IN FAGUS SYLVATICA DURING TWO CONTRASTING YEARS

in IAWA Journal
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We studied the effect of local weather conditions on intra-annual wood formation dynamics and wood structure of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) from a temperate location in the Czech Republic in two consecutive years, 2010 and 2011, characterized by different amounts of precipitation. Microcores were taken at weekly intervals and transverse sections of cambial and xylem tissue were prepared for light microscopic observation. Air temperature and soil moisture content were measured daily at the research plot. Tree-ring formation patterns and vessel features showed different responses to climatic factors in the two years. In 2010, the onset of cambial cell production occurred almost 10 days later than in 2011, when a considerably reduced amount of rainfall was already observed in the winter and spring months, as shown in Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) values. Lack of precipitation in 2011 caused premature cessation of cambial cell division and markedly narrower annual xylem increments. Vessel density and water conductive area were higher in 2011 than in 2010. Average vessel size in general did not change. In response to local weather conditions, beech controls its hydraulic conductivity mainly by changing the number of vessels and tree growth rate, followed by vessel size. The lower sensitivity of vessel diameter to hydrological alterations confirms previous studies by other authors.

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