Tree rings have long been used to make inferences about the environmental factors that influence tree growth. Great Basin bristlecone pine is a long-lived species and valuable dendroclimatic resource, but often with mixed growth signals; in many cases, not all trees at one location are limited by the same environmental variable. Past work has identified an elevational threshold below the upper treeline above which trees are limited by temperature, and below which trees tend to be moisture limited. This study identifies a similar threshold in terms of temperature instead of elevation through fine-scale topoclimatic modeling, which uses a suite of topographic and temperature-sensor data to predict temperatures across landscapes. We sampled trees near the upper limit of growth at four high-elevation locations in the Great Basin region, USA, and used cluster analysis to find dual-signal patterns in radial growth. We observed dual-signal patterns in ring widths at two of those sites, with the signals mimicking temperature and precipitation patterns. Trees in temperature-sensitive clusters grew in colder areas, while moisture-sensitive cluster trees grew in warmer areas. We found thresholds between temperatureand moisture-sensitivity ranging from 7.4 °C to 8°C growing season mean temperature. Our findings allow for a better physiological understanding of bristlecone pine growth, and seek to improve the accuracy of climate reconstructions.
Environmental Research Letters
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Tran, Tyler J.; Bruening, Jamis M.; Bunn, Andrew G.; Salzer, Matthew W.; and Weiss, Stuart B., "Cluster Analysis and Topoclimate Modeling to Examine Bristlecone Pine Tree-ring Growth Signals in the Great Basin, USA" (2017). Environmental Sciences Faculty Publications. 42.
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