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Climatic Response of Ponderosa Pine Along an Elevational Gradient in the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico

Authors: Zachary Jewell*, , William Flatley, Professor
Topics: Environmental Science
Keywords: Climate change, Dendrochronology, Ponderosa pine, Sacramento mountains
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As the global climate continues to warm, it will likely shift tree species ranges. The Sacramento Mountains in southeastern New Mexico provides an ideal location to study climatic influence on forest ecosystems due to the broad elevation-climate-vegetation gradient from dry-hot low elevations to cool-wet high elevations. The intent of this project is to use annual tree growth and climate data to evaluate the climatic response of Ponderosa Pine (pinus ponderosa) at three different locations along this elevation-climate-vegetation gradient. We collected two cores from 15-20 trees at low, mid, and high (elevation) sampling sites. Cores are currently being measured, crossdated, and combined into a standardized tree-ring chronology. Once the cores are dated, we will calculate correlations between annual ring width measurements and monthly climate data to assess climate sensitivity and drivers of ring growth. We expect to find different relationships between annual ring growth and climate variables at the different elevations. We hypothesize that the low elevation trees will exhibit the highest climate sensitivity, with a strong correlation between annual ring width and spring precipitation. We hypothesize that the high elevation trees will likely exhibit less climate sensitivity, with a weak positive correlation between annual ring growth and spring precipitation. A better understanding of these climate-growth relationships will help predict how ponderosa pine will likely respond to climate change across its distributional range.

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