Radial Growth Responses of Four Deciduous Species to Climate Variables in Central Ontario, Canada


To address the central question of how climate change influences tree growth within the context of climate will become warmer and drier in central Ontario, we used dendroclimatological analysis to understand the radial growth responses of four co-occurring hardwood species: sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britton), American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.), and red oak (Quercus rubra L.) to climatic variables in central Ontario, Canada. Ring width chronologies were developed for the target species within three regions (Algonquin Park, Haliburton, and North Bay) of the study area. Seven of the eleven chronologies exceeded the 0.85 expressed population signal (EPS) and were used for further analysis. Mean sensitivity and standard deviation values of the Ontario chronologies indicated lower sensitivity to climate fluctuations than in southern North America. Positive correlations with precipitation variables from the current and prior growing season supported previous studies in sugar maple, while a positive response to growing degree days suggested the importance of warmer temperatures and a longer growing season at the northern limit of the distribution range of sugar maple. Yellow birch ring width was correlated with precipitation from the previous growing season and from the end of the current growing season also suggesting that mature trees with deep root systems might utilize moisture from deep soil. Radial growth of American beech positively correlated to precipitation of the previous season, suggesting that the amount of moisture reserves stored in the previous year might affect growth in the following year. Drought stress at the start of the growing season for red oak had negative correlations with precipitation in August indicating possible cessation of cambial activity. This decline in growth process would also affect ring width of red oak the following year as expressed by negative correlations with mean annual temperature from the previous year. Abnormally, warm seasonal temperatures may be indicative of drought stress in red oak.

Share and Cite:

Kwiaton, M. and Wang, J. (2015) Radial Growth Responses of Four Deciduous Species to Climate Variables in Central Ontario, Canada. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 6, 2234-2248. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2015.614226.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Fritts, H.C. (1976) Tree Rings and Climate. Academic Press, London, 567 p.
[2] Bradley, R.S. and Jones, P.D. (1992) Climate since A.D. 1500. Routledge, London.
[3] Kienast, F., Wildi, O. and Brzeziecki, B. (1998) Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Species Richness in Mountain Forests—An Ecological Risk Assessment. Biological Conservation, 83, 291-305.
[4] Saxe, H., Cannell, M.G.R., Johnsen, O., Ryan, M.G. and Vourlitis, G. (2001) Tree and Forest Functioning in Response to Global Warming. New Phytologist, 149, 369-399.
[5] Sitch, S., Smith, B., Prentice, I.C., Arneth, A., Bondeau, A., Cramer, W., Kaplan, J.O., Levis, S., Lucht, W., Sykes, M.T., Thonicke, K. and Venevsky, S. (2003) Evaluation of Ecosystem Dynamic, Plant Geography and Terrestrial Carbon Cycling in the LPJ Dynamic Global Vegetation Model. Global Change Biology, 9, 161-185.
[6] Thuiller, W., Lavorel, S., Arujo, M.B., Sykes, M.T. and Prentice, I.C. (2005) Climate Change Threats to Plant Diversity in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102, 8245-8250.
[7] IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In: Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M., Chen, Z., Marquis, M., Averyt, K.B., Tignor, M. and Miller, H.L., Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
[8] Cook, E.R. and Kairiukstis, L.A. (1990) Methods of Dendrochronology. Applications in the Environmental Sciences. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 394 p.
[9] Tardif, J.C. and Conciatori, F. (2006) Influence of Climate on Tree Rings and Vessel Features in Red Oak and White Oak Growing near Their Northern Distribution Limit, Southwestern Quebec, Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 36, 2317-2330.
[10] Yeh, H.Y. and Wensel, L.C. (2000) The Relationship between Tree Diameter Growth and Climate for Coniferous Species in Northern California. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 30, 1463-1471.
[11] Yin, X., Foster, N.W., Morrison, I.K. and Arp, P.A. (1994) Tree-Ring-Based Growth Analysis for a Sugar Maple Stand: Relations to Local Climate and Transient Soil Properties. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 24, 1567-1574.
[12] Dixon, R.K., Meldahl, R.S., Ruark, G.A. and Warren, W.G. (1990) Process Modeling of Forest Growth Responses to Environmental Stress. Timber Press, Portland.
[13] OMNR (2008) Annual Report on Forest Management for the Year 2005-2006. Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Ontario.
[14] Payette, S., Fortin, M.J. and Morneau, C. (1996) The Recent Sugar Maple Decline in Southern Quebec: Probable Causes from Tree Rings. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 26, 1069-1078.
[15] Lane, C.J., Reed, D.D., Mroz, G.D. and Liechty, H.O. (1993) Width of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Tree Ring as Affected by Climate. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 23, 2370-2375.
[16] Tardif, J.C., Brisson, J. and Bergeron, Y. (2001) Dendroclimatic Analysis of Acer saccharum, Fagus grandifolia, and Tsuga canadensis from an Old-Growth Forest, Southwestern Quebec. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 31, 1491- 1501.
[17] He, J.S., Zhang, Q.B. and Bazzaz, F.A. (2005) Differential Drought Responses between Saplings and Adult Trees in Four Co-Occurring Species of New England. Trees, 19, 442-450.
[18] Godman, R.M., Yawney, H.W. and Tubbs, C.H. (1990) Sugar Maple. In: Burns, R.M. and Honkala, B.H., Eds., Silvics of North America: 2. Hardwoods, Agriculture Handbook 654, USDA Forest Service, Washington DC.
[19] Siccama, T.G. (1974) Vegetation, Soil and Climate on the Green Mountains of Vermont. Ecological Monographs, 44, 325-349.
[20] Erdmann, G.G. (1990) Yellow Birch. In: Burns, R.M. and Honkala, B.H., Eds., Silvics of North America: 2. Hardwoods, Agriculture Handbook 654, USDA Forest Service, Washington DC.
[21] Tubbs, C.H. and Houston, D.R. (1990) American Beech. In: Burns, R.M. and Honkala, B.H., Eds., Silvics of North America: 2. Hardwoods, Agriculture Handbook 654, USDA Forest Service, Washington DC.
[22] USDA (1965) Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States. Fowells, H.A., Comp. Agriculture Handbook 271, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington DC, 762 p.
[23] USDA (1975) Soil Taxonomy: A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys. Soil Survey Staff, Coord., Soil Conservation Service. Agriculture Handbook 436, US Department of Agriculture, Washington DC, 754 p.
[24] Sander, I.L. (1990) Northern Red Oak. In: Burns, R.M. and Honkala, B.H., Eds., Silvics of North America: 2. Hardwoods, Agriculture Handbook 654, USDA Forest Service, Washington DC.
[25] Zasada, J.C. and Zahner, R. (1969) Vessel Element Development in the Earlywood of Red Oak (Quercus rubra). Canadian Journal of Botany, 47, 1965-1971.
[26] Aloni, R. (1991) Wood Formation in Deciduous Hardwood Trees. In: Raghavendra, A.S., Ed., Physiology of Trees, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 75-197.
[27] Burns, R.M. and Honkala, B.H. (1990) Silvics of North America: 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654, USDA Forest Service, Washington DC.
[28] Buda, N.J. and Wang, J.R. (2006) Suitability of Two Methods of Evaluating Site Quality for Sugar Maple in Central Ontario. The Forestry Chronicle, 82, 733-744.
[29] Regent Inc. (2001) WinDendro Tree Ring Increment Measurement Software and XL Stem 1.3 Macro.
[30] Cook, E.R. (1985) A Time Series Analysis Approach to Tree Ring Standardization. Dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson.
[31] Cook, E.R. and Peters, K. (1981) The Smoothing Spline: A New Approach to Standardizing Forest Interior Tree-Ring Width Series for Dendroclimatic Studies. Tree-Ring Bulletin, 41, 45-53.
[32] Wigley, T.M.L., Briffa, K.R. and Jones, P.D. (1984) On the Average Value of Correlated Time Series, with Applications in Dendroclimatology and Hydrometeorology. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology, 23, 201-213.
[33] Parr, J. and Phillips, C. (1999) Signals, Systems, and Transforms. Second Edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.
[34] Environment Canada (2005) Canadian Climate Data. October 15, 2008.
[35] Schweingruber, F.H. (1996) Tree Rings and Environment-Dendrochronology. Haupt, Bern, 609 p.
[36] Phipps, R.L. (1982) Comments on Interpretation of Climatic Information from Tree Rings, Eastern North America. Tree-Ring Bulletin, 42, 11-22.
[37] Kozlowski, T.T. and Pallardy, S.G. (1997) Physiology of Woody Plants. Academic Press, New York.
[38] Houle, G. (1990) Growth Patterns of Sugar Maple Seedlings and Mature Trees in Healthy and in Declining Hardwood Stands. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 20, 894-901.
[39] Friesner, G.M. and Friesner, R.C. (1942) Relation of Annual Ring Formation as Illustrated in Six Species of Trees in Marshall County, Indiana. Butler University Botanical Studies, 5, 96-112.
[40] Miller, C.W. (1951) Growth Data from Nine Sections of Acer saccharum from Montgomery County, Indiana. Butler University Botanical Studies, 107, 12-19.
[41] Fritts, H.C. (1962) The Relation of Growth Ring Widths in American Beech and White Oak to Variation in Climate. Tree-Ring Bulletin, 25, 2-10.
[42] Foster, J.R. and LeBlanc, D.C. (1993) A Physiological Approach to Dendroclimatic Modeling of Oak Radial Growth in the Midwestern United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 23, 783-798.
[43] LeBlanc, D. and Terrel, M. (2001) Dendroclimatic Analyses Using the Thornthwaite-Mather-Type Evapotranspiration Model: A Bridge between Dendroecology and Forest Simulation Models. Tree-Ring Research, 57, 55-66.
[44] Terrel, M. and LeBlanc, D. (2002) Spatial Variation in Response of Northern Red Oak to Climate Stresses in Eastern North America. In: Begin, Y., Ed., Dendrochronology, Environmental Change and Human History: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Dendrochronology, 22-27 August 2002, Quebec City, Les Presses de l’Universite Laval, Quebec City, 340-343.
[45] OMNR (1998) A Silvicultural Guide for the Tolerant Hardwood Forest in Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto, 500 p.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.