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Pacific Southwest Research Station

 
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

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Title: Response of high-elevation limber pine (Pinus flexilis) to multiyear droughts and 20th-century warming, Sierra Nevada, California, USA

Authors: Millar, Constance I.; Westfall, Robert D.; Delany, Diane L.

Date: 2007

Source Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37(12): 2508-2520

Abstract: Limber pine (Pinus flexilis James) stands along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, California, experienced significant mortality from 1985 to 1995 during a period of sustained low precipitation and high temperature. The stands differ from old-growth limber pine forests in being dense, young, more even-aged, and located in warmer, drier microclimates. Tree growth showed high interannual variability. Relative to live trees, dead trees over their lifetimes had higher series sensitivity, grew more variably, and had lower growth. Although droughts recurred during the 20th century, tree mortality occurred only in the late 1980s. Significant correlations and interactions of growth and mortality dates with temperature and precipitation indicate that conditions of warmth plus sustained drought increased the likelihood of mortality in the 1985-1995 interval. This resembles a global-change-type drought, where warming combined with drought was an initial stress, trees were further weakened by dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium cyanocarpum (A. Nels. ex Rydb.) A. Nels.), and proximally killed by mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins). However, the thinning effect of the drought-related mortality appears to have promoted resilience and improved near-term health of these stands, which suffered no additional mortality in the subsequent 1999-2004 drought.

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Citation

    Millar, Constance I.; Westfall, Robert D.; Delany, Diane L. 2007. Response of high-elevation limber pine (Pinus flexilis) to multiyear droughts and 20th-century warming, Sierra Nevada, California, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37(12): 2508-2520
Last Modified: June 28, 2013