University of Oulu

Buchwal, A., Bret-Harte, M.S., Bailey, H. et al. From Intra-plant to Regional Scale: June Temperatures and Regional Climates Directly and Indirectly Control Betula nana Growth in Arctic Alaska. Ecosystems (2022).

From intra-plant to regional scale : June temperatures and regional climates directly and indirectly control Betula nana growth in Arctic Alaska

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Author: Buchwal, Agata1,2; Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia3; Bailey, Hannah2,4;
Organizations: 1Institute of Geoecology and Geoinformation, Adam Mickiewicz University, 61-680, Poznan, Poland
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, 99508, USA
3Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, 99775, USA
4Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90570, Oulu, Finland
5University of the Arctic, 96930, Rovaniemi, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-10-03


Tundra shrubs reflect climate sensitivities in their growth-ring widths, yet tissue-specific shrub chronologies are poorly studied. Further, the relative importance of regional climate patterns that exert mesoscale precipitation and temperature influences on tundra shrub growth has been explored in only a few Arctic locations. Here, we investigate Betula nana growth-ring chronologies from adjacent dry heath and moist tussock tundra habitats in arctic Alaska in relation to local and regional climate. Mean shrub and five tissue-specific ring width chronologies were analyzed using serial sectioning of above- and below-ground shrub organs, resulting in 30 shrubs per site with 161 and 104 cross sections from dry and moist tundra, respectively. Betula nana growth-ring widths in both habitats were primarily related to June air temperature (1989–2014). The strongest relationships with air temperature were found for ‘Branch2’ chronologies (dry site: r = 0.78, June 16, DOY = 167; moist site: r = 0.75, June 9, DOY = 160). Additionally, below-ground chronologies (‘Root’ and ‘Root2’) from the moist site were positively correlated with daily mean air temperatures in the previous late-June (‘Root2’ chronology: r = 0.57, pDOY = 173). Most tissue-specific chronologies exhibited the strongest correlations with daily mean air temperature during the period between 8 and 20 June. Structural equation modeling indicated that shrub growth is indirectly linked to regional Arctic and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (AO and PDO) climate indices through their relation to summer sea ice extent and air temperature. Strong dependence of Betula nana growth on early growing season temperature indicates a highly coordinated allocation of resources to tissue growth, which might increase its competitive advantage over other shrub species under a rapidly changing Arctic climate.

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Series: Ecosystems
ISSN: 1432-9840
ISSN-E: 1435-0629
ISSN-L: 1432-9840
Volume: In press
DOI: 10.1007/s10021-022-00771-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was supported by the Polish-US Fulbright Commission (A.B.), the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education program MOBILNOSC PLUS (1072/MOB/2013/0), EU-F7P INTERACT (262693) (A.B.), NSF grants 1504141 and 1836873 (J.M.W.), 1556481 and 1936752 (M.S.B.-H.) and Arctic Observing Network (A.B., J.M.W.). The University of Oulu and Academy of Finland grant (318930) supported H.B. through the Arctic Interactions project. We thank Toolik Research Station staff for their support. We would like to thank Emma Furlong, Niccole Van Hoey, Jeremy Buttler, Andy Anderson Smith, Molly Welker and John Ferguson for their help in the field work and/or in shrubs’ thin sectioning.
EU Grant Number: (262693) INTERACT - International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic
Copyright information: © 2022. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit