Ting Li, Qiaoqi Sun, Hongfei Zou, Petra Marschner

Climate Sensitivity and Drought Legacy of Tree Growth in Plantation Forests in Northeast China Are Species- and Age-Dependent

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

The occurrence, frequency, and severity of drought are accelerating due to global warming. Understanding the vulnerability of plantation forests to climate change, particularly to drought events, is critical to revealing the underlying mechanisms of tree resilience, recovery, and acclimation, which are important for plantation management. How the stand age affects the climate sensitivity of tree growth, as well as the direction, magnitude, and duration of the drought legacy, in plantation forests in northeast China is still unclear. In this study, we used MODIS-derived NDVI time series with gridded climate data from 2000 to 2020 to fill this knowledge gap. The selected plantation forests were dominated by four coniferous species: Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi), and Dahurian larch (Larix gmelinii). The results show that the climate sensitivity of tree growth differed among species and age groups. The growth of Korean pine and Scots pine was mostly dependent upon precipitation, while the growth of Japanese larch and Dahurian larch was determined primarily by temperature. Old Japanese larch (21–40 years) and Dahurian larch trees (31–60 years) were more sensitive to temperature and precipitation than young conspecifics, whereas old Korean pine (41–60 years) and Scots pine (31–60 years) were less sensitive to precipitation and temperature than young conspecifics. Furthermore, the legacy of drought lasted one year for Korean pine, Japanese larch, and Dahurian larch and over three years for Scots pine. Old trees were more severely affected by drought, particularly Scots pine and Dahurian larch. The findings of the study can help improve plantation forest management for better adaptation to future climate change.

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