International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 63, Issue 12, pp 1683–1692 | Cite as

Impact of temperature on the growth of a Neotropical tree species (Hymenaea courbaril, Fabaceae) at its southern distribution limit

  • Giuliano Maselli LocosselliEmail author
  • Stefan Krottenthaler
  • Philipp Pitsch
  • Dieter Anhuf
  • Gregório Ceccantini
Original Paper


Widely distributed tree species usually face different growth conditions across gradients of climate variables. Hymenaea courbaril inhabits most of Neotropical lowlands, where its growth is limited by low precipitation under seasonal precipitation regimes. However, it is still unclear what are the drivers of growth variability at its distribution limits, where populations are most vulnerable to climate change. We evaluated the role of precipitation and temperature variability on the growth rate of two populations of H. courbaril at the southern limits of its occurrence. Sampling sites comprise two semi-deciduous forest fragments with weathered and chemically poor soils, similar temperature conditions, only differing in size and in precipitation regime. To achieve that goal, we built two tree-ring chronologies using standard dendrochronological methods, one with 21 trees (37 radii) and the other one with 13 trees (24 radii). First, we evaluated if site conditions would affect average growth patterns, and then, we tested the climate-growth relationships and the teleconnections with the Equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature (SST). The results show that trees display similar average growth rates throughout life without evidence of influence from differing fragment sizes. Nonetheless, precipitation positively influences annual growth in the drier site, while it has a negative effect on growth in the wetter site. In contrast to previous studies, temperature has a stronger influence than precipitation on the growth of these trees. Monthly, seasonal, and annual mean temperatures showed a negative influence on trees growth. The variability of the regional temperature and, consequently, of the growth rate of the trees is partially dependent on the SST of the Equatorial Pacific. In conclusion, this study shows that temperature is a key limiting growth factor for this species at its southern distribution limits and periods with warmer temperature will likely reduce annual growth rate.


Tropical dendrochronology Tree rings Climate change Limiting growth factors South America 



The authors thank Luiza Teixeira, Paula J. Alécio, and Vitor Barão for helping during field work, Ana Lucia Seghessi Albino for helping dating the tree rings, and COTEC and Instituto Florestal do Estado de São Paulo for granting the licence for sampling in both State Parks.

Funding information

This study was funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation - FAPESP (2012/50457-4, 2015/25511-3, 2017/50085-3), German Research Foundation – DFG (DFG AN214/10-1, DFG AN 214/10-2), and National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (142706/2011-6, 309805/2011-2, 307041/2014-0).

Supplementary material

484_2019_1786_MOESM1_ESM.docx (4.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 4421 kb)
484_2019_1786_MOESM2_ESM.csv (1 kb)
ESM 2 (CSV 954 bytes)


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Copyright information

© ISB 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Botânica, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Physical GeographyUniversity of PassauPassauGermany

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