Summary: Woody species in Mediterranean ecosystems form intra-annual density fluctuations (IADFs) in tree rings in response to changes in environmental conditions, especially water availability. Dendrochronology, quantitative wood anatomy and high-resolution isotopic analysis (using a laser ablation technique) were used to characterize IADFs in Arbutus unedo shrubs grown on two sites with different water availability on the island of Elba (Italy). Our findings show that IADF characterization can provide information about the relationship between environmental factors and tree growth at the seasonal level. At the more xeric site, IADFs mainly located in the early and middle parts of the annual ring, showed a decrease in vessel size and an increase in δ13C as a result of drought deficit. Opposite trends were found at the more mesic site, with IADFs located at the end of the ring and associated with a lower δ13C. Moreover, at the first site, IADFs are induced by drought deficit, while at the second site IADFs are linked with the regrowth in the last part of the growing season triggered by favourable wet conditions. This combined approach is a promising way for dating problematic wood samples and interpreting the phenomena that trigger the formation of IADFs in the Mediterranean environment. © The Authors (2010). Journal compilation © New Phytologist Trust (2010).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science