Effects of competition, drought stress and photosynthetic productivity on the radial growth of white spruce in western Canada

Syed Ashraful Alam, Jianguo Huang, Kenneth J. Stadt, Philip G. Comeau, Andria Dawson, Guillermo Gea-Izquierdo, Tuomas Aakala, Teemu Samuli Hölttä, Timo Veikko Vesala, Annikki Mäkelä, Frank Alexander Berninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Understanding the complex interactions of competition, climate warming-induced drought stress, and photosynthetic productivity on the radial growth of trees is central to linking climate change impacts on tree growth, stand structure and in general, forest productivity. Using a mixed modelling approach, a stand-level photosynthetic production model, climate, stand competition and tree-ring data from mixedwood stands in western Canada, we investigated the radial growth response of white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench.) Voss) to simulated annual photosynthetic production, simulated drought stress, and tree and stand level competition. The long-term (~80-year) radial growth of white spruce was constrained mostly by competition, as measured by total basal area, with minor effects from drought. There was no relation of competition and drought on tree growth but dominant trees increased their growth more strongly to increases in modelled photosynthetic productivity, indicating asymmetric competition. Our results indicate a co-limitation of drought and climatic factors inhibiting photosynthetic productivity for radial growth of white spruce in western Canada. These results illustrate how a modelling approach can separate the complex factors regulating both multi-decadal average radial growth and interannual radial growth variations of white spruce, and contribute to advance our understanding on sustainable management of mixedwood boreal forests in western Canada.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1915
JournalFrontiers in plant science
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 4112 Forestry
  • Boreal forest
  • Drought
  • Photosynthetic production
  • Tree-tree competition
  • Tree growth
  • Western Canada

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