High-frequency variation of tree-ring width of some native and alien tree species in Latvia during the period 1965-2009.
The plasticity of climate-growth relationships of trees is one of the main factors determining the climate-induced changes in forest productivity and composition. In this study, high-frequency variation of tree-ring width (TRW) of four native and three alien tree species and two hybrids of Populus L. growing in Latvia (hemiboreal zone) was compared using a principal component analysis based on TRW indices for the period 1965-2009. The effect of climatic factors was assessed using a bootstrapped correlation analysis. Influence of common climatic factors related to the length of the vegetation season, winter temperature, and water regime in summer was traced in the TRW of the studied species and hybrids. The combination and effect of the identified factors differed by species (and hybrids), to a certain extent explaining the diversity of TRW patterns. Nevertheless, some similarities among the species were also observed, suggesting the plasticity of growth response. Scots pine was generally sensitive to winter temperatures, but Norway spruce was mainly sensitive to summer water regime, while black alder was sensitive to winter temperatures and precipitation in spring. In contrast, silver birch showed the lowest sensitivity to the tested climatic factors (demonstrating sensitivity to winter precipitation in a few sites), suggesting tolerance to weather fluctuations. The TRW of the alien species was primarily sensitive to climatic factors related to water regime in the summer of the year preceding the formation of tree-ring, implying differences in mechanisms regulating wood increment. Nevertheless, temperature in the dormant period was significant for European larch in a few sites, suggesting sensitivity to cold damage. The variation of TRW of Populus hybrids diverged from others, as their growth was negatively correlated with the temperature in autumn, spring, and summer and positively correlated with water balance. Although the annual water balance in Latvia is positive, the effect of water deficit on tree growth was apparent.