Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
Research article
13 May 2011
Research article |  | 13 May 2011

Relating ring width of Mediterranean evergreen species to seasonal and annual variations of precipitation and temperature

W. Nijland, E. Jansma, E. A. Addink, M. Domínguez Delmás, and S. M. De Jong

Abstract. Plant growth in Mediterranean landscapes is limited by the typical summer-dry climate. Forests in these areas are only marginally productive and may be quite susceptible to modern climate change. To improve our understanding of forest sensitivity to annual and seasonal climatic variability, we use tree-ring measurements of two Mediterranean evergreen tree species: Quercus ilex L. and Arbutus unedo L. We sampled 34 stems of these species on three different types of substrates in the Peyne study area in southern France. The resulting chronologies were analysed in combination with 38 yr of monthly precipitation and temperature data to reconstruct the response of stem growth to climatic variability. Results indicate a strong positive response to May and June precipitation, as well as a significant positive influence of early-spring temperatures and a negative growth response to summer heat. Comparison of the data with more detailed productivity measurements in two contrasting years confirms these observations and shows a strong productivity limiting effect of low early-summer precipitation. The results show that tree-ring data from Q.ilex and A.unedo can provide valuable information about the response of these tree species to climate variability, improving our ability to predict the effects of climate change in Mediterranean ecosystems.

Final-revised paper