Biophysical modelling of intra-ring variations in tracheid features and wood density of Pinus pinaster trees exposed to seasonal droughts.
Process-based models that link seasonally varying environmental signals to morphological features within tree rings are essential tools to predict tree growth response and commercially important wood quality traits under future climate scenarios. This study evaluated model portrayal of radial growth and wood anatomy observations within a mature maritime pine (Pinus pinaster (L.) Aït.) stand exposed to seasonal droughts. Intra-annual variations in tracheid anatomy and wood density were identified through image analysis and X-ray densitometry on stem cores covering the growth period 1999-2010. A cambial growth model was integrated with modelled plant water status and sugar availability from the soil-plant-atmosphere transfer model MuSICA to generate estimates of cell number, cell volume, cell mass and wood density on a weekly time step. The model successfully predicted inter-annual variations in cell number, ring width and maximum wood density. The model was also able to predict the occurrence of special anatomical features such as intra-annual density fluctuations (IADFs) in growth rings. Since cell wall thickness remained surprisingly constant within and between growth rings, variations in wood density were primarily the result of variations in lumen diameter, both in the model and anatomical data. In the model, changes in plant water status were identified as the main driver of the IADFs through a direct effect on cell volume. The anatomy data also revealed that a trade-off existed between hydraulic safety and hydraulic efficiency. Although a simplified description of cambial physiology is presented, this integrated modelling approach shows potential value for identifying universal patterns of tree-ring growth and anatomical features over a broad climatic gradient.
Wilkinson, S; Ogée, J; Domec, J-C; Rayment, M; Wingate, L
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