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Garcés-Pastor, S., E. Gutiérrez-Merino, E. Martínez-Sancho, I. Dorado-Liñán, J. Julio Camarero, N. Cañellas-Boltà, and T. Vegas-Vilarrúbia Subalpine forest dynamics reconstructed throughout the last 700 years in the Central Pyrenees by means of tree rings and pollen, The Holocene, 0(0), 0959683618810402, doi: 10.1177/0959683618810402.


Understanding how climate has modulated forest growth and composition in the past is necessary to predict the influence of the ongoing climate warming on the dynamics of mountain forests. We studied the past dynamics of subalpine Pyrenean forests during the last 700 years by assessing the relationships between sedimentary pollen and tree-ring records, and their link with climatic drivers. We compared the pollen record and the montane pollen ratio, an integrative index obtained from sedimentary pollen that allows inferring past altitudinal variations in the montane–subalpine ecotone, with tree-ring width from mountain pine (Pinus uncinata) subalpine forests located in Central Pyrenees. To assess climate–growth associations, we related the dendrochronological data with instrumental meteorological records (1901–2010) and temperature reconstructions from the Pyrenees and Northern Hemisphere. Few robust associations were found between arboreal pollen taxa and tree-ring width series of the surrounding forests. However, significant correlations were found between the montane pollen ratio and tree-ring width series from nearby forests (located less than 10 km apart). This relationship could be potentially useful to infer long-term forest growth changes at decadal to centennial scales using the montane pollen ratio. On the contrary, our results show that tree radial growth has mainly been constrained by low temperatures although the growth sensitivity to climate has considerably varied over the last 700 years. Similar results were obtained for the last century as growth variability of these high-elevation forests is still driven by low temperatures, but a relaxation of this constrain in recent decades has been detected.

Reference article

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