The impacts of climate change on the radial growth of Pinuskoraiensis along elevations of Changbai Mountain in northeastern China

Abstract

The importance of a better understanding of the growth response of forest to climate change for managing and conserving forest has been realized. In this study, we developed the ring-width chronologies of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis), one of the main constructive species of Changbai Mountain in northeastern China, to examine the radial growth–climate relationships. The stability of these relationships before and after abrupt climate change was evaluated. We built regression equations to project the future growth of the species under future climate change scenarios projected by the Providing Regional Climates for Impacts Studies (PRECISs) climate model. The results were as follows: (1) The chronologies in the three elevation gradients, HY1 at 740 m.s.l., FA at 940 m.s.l. and HY2 at 1258 m.s.l., had the good spatial similarity with high Gleichläfigkeit (GLK) indices; however, significant differences still existed between the growth–climate relationships of the three sites. The width chronology of Korean pine at site HY1 was positively correlated with the precipitation in September of the previous year (p < 0.01) and June of the current year (p < 0.05). The chronology at site FA was positively correlated with the temperature in March and April of the current year (p < 0.05). Whereas the current July temperature and the previous September precipitation were the main limiting factors for the growth of Korean pine at site HY2. (2) Mann–Kendall test results revealed that the climatic data from the meteorological stations near the sampling sites had an abrupt annual average temperature change in 1989, but the radial growth–climate relationship change only occurred in the chronology with May precipitation at site HY2, which may be caused by water stress. (3) With the projected increasing temperature and decreasing precipitation, compared with the base-line period (1971–2000), the radial growth of Korean pine at HY1 will relatively decrease, and the reduction will gradually increase. In contrast, at the higher elevation, like the FA and HY2 sites, the radial growth of Korean pine will relatively increase. Thus, the higher elevation areas of the Korean pine’s vertical distribution belt are more favorable for this species’ radial growth and forestation.

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