Ecological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 303–311 | Cite as

Divergent tree growth response to recent climate warming of Abies faxoniana at alpine treelines in east edge of Tibetan Plateau

  • Yuandong Zhang
  • Mingming Guo
  • Xiaochun Wang
  • Fengxue Gu
  • Shirong Liu
Special Feature Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation in East Asia as a token of memory for the 7th EAFES in Daegu, Korea


An anomalous reduction in tree growth indices has been detected in tree ring records from many circumpolar northern latitude sites in recent years, which was known as the divergence phenomenon. In order to understand whether the divergence phenomenon appeared at altitudinal treelines in east edge of Tibetan Plateau, we analyzed the correlation coefficients between tree growth and climate variables before and after recent climate warming, respectively. The results showed that divergence phenomenon took place and varied with sites. Compared with those in 1955–1982, the correlation coefficient of growth to mean temperature in June declined during 1983–2012. In Songpan site, more than half of the sampled trees showed an increasing positive correlation with temperature from July to September, while others turned to be a negative correlation. The positive responses to the mean temperature in previous-year November and December declined in Markang site. Only in Miyaluo site, the positive correlation between tree ring index and temperature from July to September increased. Both the anomalous reduction or disappearance of the responses to the mean temperature and the divergent growth responses suggested that the divergence phenomenon was universal at altitudinal treelines in east edge of Tibetan Plateau, which had potentially significant influences on the estimation of forest productivity and climatic reconstructions based on tree ring.


Treelines Tree ring Divergence Pronounced warming Tibetan Plateau 



This research was jointly supported by the National Nature Science Fund of China (31770490; 31370463) and the Special Research Program for Public-Welfare Forestry (201404201), and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (No. 2015DFA31440; No. 2012BAD22B01).

Author contribution statement

YZ and MG were the principal investigators for this study. They undertook the field survey, main data processing and statistical analysis, and also wrote the manuscript. SL supervised the research project and contributed to design of the experiment, and the manuscript writing and revision of earlier drafts until final approval. XW and FG contributed to the interpretation and discussion of the results.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuandong Zhang
    • 1
  • Mingming Guo
    • 2
  • Xiaochun Wang
    • 3
  • Fengxue Gu
    • 4
  • Shirong Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Environment, State Forestry Administration, Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and ProtectionChinese Academy of ForestryBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Bamboo and RattanInternational Centre for Bamboo and RattanBeijingChina
  3. 3.Center for Ecological ResearchNortheast Forestry UniversityHarbinChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Dryland Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in AgricultureChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina

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