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1.  A meta-analysis of cambium phenology and growth: linear and non-linear patterns in conifers of the northern hemisphere 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(9):1911-1920.
Background and Aims
Ongoing global warming has been implicated in shifting phenological patterns such as the timing and duration of the growing season across a wide variety of ecosystems. Linear models are routinely used to extrapolate these observed shifts in phenology into the future and to estimate changes in associated ecosystem properties such as net primary productivity. Yet, in nature, linear relationships may be special cases. Biological processes frequently follow more complex, non-linear patterns according to limiting factors that generate shifts and discontinuities, or contain thresholds beyond which responses change abruptly. This study investigates to what extent cambium phenology is associated with xylem growth and differentiation across conifer species of the northern hemisphere.
Xylem cell production is compared with the periods of cambial activity and cell differentiation assessed on a weekly time scale on histological sections of cambium and wood tissue collected from the stems of nine species in Canada and Europe over 1–9 years per site from 1998 to 2011.
Key Results
The dynamics of xylogenesis were surprisingly homogeneous among conifer species, although dispersions from the average were obviously observed. Within the range analysed, the relationships between the phenological timings were linear, with several slopes showing values close to or not statistically different from 1. The relationships between the phenological timings and cell production were distinctly non-linear, and involved an exponential pattern
The trees adjust their phenological timings according to linear patterns. Thus, shifts of one phenological phase are associated with synchronous and comparable shifts of the successive phases. However, small increases in the duration of xylogenesis could correspond to a substantial increase in cell production. The findings suggest that the length of the growing season and the resulting amount of growth could respond differently to changes in environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC3838565  PMID: 24201138
Cambium; cell differentiation; cell production; climate change; conifers; growth; meristem; phenology; productivity; secondary wall formation; xylogenesis
2.  An allometry-based approach for understanding forest structure, predicting tree-size distribution and assessing the degree of disturbance 
Tree-size distribution is one of the most investigated subjects in plant population biology. The forestry literature reports that tree-size distribution trajectories vary across different stands and/or species, whereas the metabolic scaling theory suggests that the tree number scales universally as −2 power of diameter. Here, we propose a simple functional scaling model in which these two opposing results are reconciled. Basic principles related to crown shape, energy optimization and the finite-size scaling approach were used to define a set of relationships based on a single parameter that allows us to predict the slope of the tree-size distributions in a steady-state condition. We tested the model predictions on four temperate mountain forests. Plots (4 ha each, fully mapped) were selected with different degrees of human disturbance (semi-natural stands versus formerly managed). Results showed that the size distribution range successfully fitted by the model is related to the degree of forest disturbance: in semi-natural forests the range is wide, whereas in formerly managed forests, the agreement with the model is confined to a very restricted range. We argue that simple allometric relationships, at an individual level, shape the structure of the whole forest community.
PMCID: PMC3574408  PMID: 23193128
self-thinning; old-growth forests; allometry; finite-size scaling
3.  Widening of xylem conduits in a conifer tree depends on the longer time of cell expansion downwards along the stem 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;63(2):837-845.
The diameter of vascular conduits increases towards the stem base. It has been suggested that this profile is an efficient anatomical feature for reducing the hydraulic resistance when trees grow taller. However, the mechanism that controls the cell diameter along the plant is not fully understood. The timing of cell differentiation along the stem was investigated. Cambial activity and cell differentiation were investigated in a Picea abies tree (11.5 m in height) collecting microsamples at nine different heights (from 1 to 9 m) along the stem with a 4 d time interval. Wood sections (8–12 μm thick) were stained and observed under a light microscope with polarized light to differentiate the developing xylem cells. Cell wall lignification was detected using cresyl violet acetate. The first enlarging cells appeared almost simultaneously along the tree axis indicating that cambium activation is not height-dependent. A significant increase in the duration of the cell expansion phase was observed towards the tree base: at 9 m from the ground, xylem cells expanded for 7 d, at 6 m for 14 d, and at 3 m for 19 d. The duration of the expansion phase is positively correlated with the lumen area of the tracheids (r2=0.68, P < 0.01) at the same height. By contrast, thickness of the cell wall of the earlywood did not show any trend with height. The lumen area of the conduits down the stem appeared linearly dependent on time during which differentiating cells remained in the expansion phase. However, the inductive signal of such long-distance patterned differentiation remains to be identified.
PMCID: PMC3254684  PMID: 22016427
Auxin; cambium; cell differentiation; conduit tapering; Picea abies polar pattern growth

Results 1-3 (3)