Critical minimum temperature limits xylogenesis and maintains treelines on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau
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CitationLi, Xiaoxia, Eryuan Liang, Jozica Gricar, Sergio Rossi, Katarina Cufar, and Aaron M. Ellison. 2017. “Critical Minimum Temperature Limits Xylogenesis and Maintains Treelines on the Southeastern Tibetan Plateau.” Science Bulletin 62 (11) (June): 804–812. doi:10.1016/j.scib.2017.04.025.
AbstractPhysiological and ecological mechanisms that define treelines are still debated. It has been suggested that the absence of trees above the treeline is caused by low temperatures that limit growth. Thus, we hypothesized that there is a critical minimum temperature (CTmin) preventing xylogenesis at treeline. We tested this hypothesis by examining weekly xylogenesis across three and four growing seasons in two natural Smith fir (Abies georgei var. smithii) treeline sites on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. Despite differences in the timing of cell differentiation among years, minimum air temperature was the dominant climatic variable associated with xylem growth; the critical minimum temperature (CTmin) for the onset and end of xylogenesis occurred at 0.7±0.4 °C. A process-based modelling chronology of tree-ring formation using this CTmin was consistent with actual tree-ring data. This extremely low CTmin permits Smith fir growing at treeline to complete annual xylem production and maturation and provides both support and a mechanism for treeline formation.
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