Growth response of seven multipurpose tree species to climatic factors: A case study from northwestern Himalayas, India

Panda S., Bhardwaj D.R., Thakur C.L., Sharma P., Kumar D. (2022): Growth response of seven multipurpose tree species to climatic factors: A case study from northwestern Himalayas, India. J. For. Sci., 68: 83–95.

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Identification of the species for dendrochronological studies is of great relevance to understand various aspects of climate change. However, in the northwestern Himalayan region, dendroclimatological investigations are confined to conifer species, with broadleaved species being disregarded. Thus, the present study was conducted to assess the growth response of seven multipurpose tree species (MPTs), namely Bauhinia variegata, Celtis australis, Grewia optiva, Paulownia fortunei, Toona ciliata, Ulmus villosa and Melia composita to local climate variables, viz. temperature as well as rainfall (seasonal, monthly, average) and CO2 level by evaluating the climatic signal in tree ring chronologies at Solan district, India (altitude 1 250 m) in the mid-hills of the northwestern Himalayas. The results indicated that only the maximum, rainy season temperature and CO2 level varied significantly (P < 0.05) between 1991 and 2017. Only G. optiva exhibited a significant (P < 0.05) tendency toward increased growth. C. australis has a remarkable negative correlation with temperature variables, viz. average, maximum, spring season, March temperature, whereas T. ciliata exhibits a positive correlation with temperature variables, such as rainy season, average and April temperature. Similarly, winter, total and December rainfall have a profound effect on P. fortunei, while March rainfall adversely affected the growth of B. variegata. On the other hand, G. optiva demonstrated sensitivity to both temperature (February and May) and rainfall variables (winter, February and May). U. villosa recorded a positive correlation with rainfall (autumn and October rainfall) but a negative correlation with temperature variables (maximum and April temperature). Elevated CO2 levels affected only two species (G. optiva, M. composita) out of the seven selected species. Our findings will contribute to a better understanding of the climate growth relationships of investigated tree species, as a result, to more accurate projections of the effects of climate change on these MPTs and directing future studies.

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