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Ring-Width Chronologies of the Alpine Dwarf Shrub Empetrum Hermaphroditum FROM THE NORWEGIAN MOUNTAINS

In: IAWA Journal
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In this study, we present the first ring-width chronologies of the dwarf shrub species Empetrum hermaphroditum. For a proper synchronization of the growth rings, serial sectioning was applied in order to deal with the high intern al growth variability and the high proportion of discontinuous rings. The plants were collected from three micro-sites in the middle alpine belt of the Norwegian Scandes wh ich differed regarding solar insolation, snow accumulation and wind exposure. The constructed ringwidth chronologies cover aperiod of max. 80 years. Irrespective of microclimatic differences, the chronologies are highly correlated among each other and with temperatures during the growth period (June-August). However, ecological differences between the micro-sites are reflected by the mean annual growth increments of the plants. We compared the Empetrum chronologies with a ring-width chronology of Betula pubescens trees from the local tree line. Despite the differences in life form and local site conditions, the growth patterns are very similar, an observation which underscores the dominant influence of temperature on growthring formation. Due to the strong climatic signal recorded in the growth curves of E. hermaphroditum, this dwarf shrub provides a significant potential for climate-growth studies in arctic and alpine regions beyond the tree line.

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