Temporal and spatial variability of phloem structure in Picea abies and Fagus sylvatica and its link to climate
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Using a unique 8-year data set (2010-2017) of phloem data, we studied the effect of temperature and precipitation on the phloem anatomy (conduit area, widths of ring, early and late phloem) and xylem-ring width in two coexisting temperate tree species, Picea abies and Fagus sylvatica, from three contrasting European temperate forest sites. Histometric analyses were performed on microcores taken from tree stems in autumn. We found high interannual variability and sensitivity of phloem anatomy and xylem-ring widths to precipitation and temperature; however, the responses were species- and site-specific. The contrasting response of xylem and phloem-ring widths of the same tree species to weather conditions was found at the two Slovenian sites generally well supplied with precipitation, while at the driest Czech site, the influence of weather factors on xylem and phloem ring widths was synchronised. Since widths of mean annual xylem and phloem increments were narrowest at the Czech site, this site is suggested to be most restrictive for the radial growth of both species. By influencing the seasonal patterns of xylem and phloem development, water availability appears to be the most important determinant of tissue- and species-specific responses to local weather conditions.