Moisture-limited tree growth for a subtropical Himalayan conifer forest in Western Nepal

Shalik Ram Sigdel, Binod Dawadi, J. Julio Camarero, Eryuan Liang, Steven W. Leavitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chir pine (Pinus roxburghii Sarg.) is a common tree species with ecological and economic importance across the subtropical forests of the central Himalayas. However, little is known about its growth response to the recent warming and drying trends observed in this region. Here, we developed a 268-year-long ring-width chronology (1743-2010) from western Nepal to investigate its growth response to climate. Based on nearby available meteorological records, growth was positively correlated with winter (November to February; r = 0.39, p < 0.05) as well as March to April (r = 0.67, p < 0.001) precipitation. Growth also showed a strong positive correlation with the sum of precipitation from November of the previous year to April of the current year (r = 0.65, p < 0.001). In contrast, a negative relationship with the mean temperature in March to April (r = -0.48, p < 0.05) suggests the influence of warming-induced evapotranspiration on tree growth. Spring droughts lasting 4-6 months constrain Chir pine growth. These results are supported by the synchronization between droughts and very narrow or locally missing rings. Warming and drying tendencies during winter and spring will reduce forest growth and resilience and make Chir pine forests more vulnerable and at higher risk of growth decline and dieback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number340
JournalForests
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 8 2018

Keywords

  • Central Himalayas
  • Climate change
  • Dendrochronology
  • Pinus roxburghii
  • Pre-monsoon season
  • Subtropical forest
  • Western Nepal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry

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