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iTREE-Long-term variability of tree growth in a changing environment - identifying physiological mechanisms using stable C and O isotopes in tree rings.

English title iTREE-Long-term variability of tree growth in a changing environment - identifying physiological mechanisms using stable C and O isotopes in tree rings.
Applicant Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter
Number 136295
Funding scheme Sinergia
Research institution Labor für Atmosphärenchemie Paul Scherrer Institut
Institution of higher education Paul Scherrer Institute - PSI
Main discipline Environmental Research
Start/End 01.04.2012 - 31.01.2016
Approved amount 1'858'807.00
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Keywords (10)

Tree rings; Tree ring width; Stable C and O Isotopes; Process oriented approach; Natural archives; Environmental drivers; Modeling; Acclimation; Carbon cycle; Global changes

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Trees contribute largely to the C-fixation by transforming atmospheric CO2 to biomass and wood. Their importance in the carbon cycle is evident as their photosynthetic assimilation is one of the largest terrestrial carbon fluxes, with their standing biomass representing the largest C-pool in the terrestrial biosphere. Understanding how tree physiology and growth respond to long-term environmental change is pivotal in predicting the magnitude and direction of the terrestrial carbon sink.
Lay summary
Tree growth is strongly dependent on climate, which is reflected in tree rings. Warm years with sufficient water supply (precipitation) are good growth conditions resulting in wide tree rings. In cold or dry years growth is reduced, visible in narrow tree ring width (TRW). Consequently, TRW is used to reconstruct past climate courses.

Another physiological phenomenon, which can be used as a climate indicator is the behavior of stable isotopic ratios. During photosynthesis plants discriminate against the heavier 13C isotope in favor of the lighter 12C. At the same time the lighter and more abundant H216O transpires more readily than the heavier H218O. Therefore plants contain more of the heavier 18O compared to the feeding water. The degree of the 13C discrimination is strongly controlled by water availability and air humidity. The 18O content is also controlled by air humidity but more strongly by temperature.

Stable isotopes also provide important information on physiological processes during the interaction between the plant and its environment. This information is instrumental in understanding and modeling the impact of the environment on tree responses. Therefore, the combination of TRW and stable isotopes enhances the information extracted from tree rings.

i-TREE is an interdisciplinary research framework, which enables leading dendro-climatologists, plant physiologists, isotope specialists, and global carbon cycle modelers to capitalize on their existing synergies. The object of their research is to reduce uncertainties related to the estimation of tree/forest growth in the context of changing natural environments. Cross-cutting themes in our project are tree rings, stable isotopes, and mechanistic modeling. Goals are:

(i)             To establish a European network of tree-ring based isotope time-series for the analysis of year-to-year tree ring series reflecting long-term tree physiological changes.

(ii)            To gain specific information on the acclimation potential of trees by means of laboratory and field experiments. These results will facilitate the improvement of mechanistic models for simulating tree responses to environmental variations. Tree responses are reflected in tree growth and tree-ring isotope ratios.

(iii)          To implement these improvements into a dynamic, global vegetation model, and to validate and refine this model so that it represents plant physiological processes.

(iv)          To attribute long-term variation in tree growth to plant physiological and environmental drivers, and to identify how our refined knowledge revises predictions of the coupled carbon-cycle climate system.

With i-TREE we will contribute to the following objectives:

(i)             Advanced quantifications of long-term variation in tree growth across Central Europe,

(ii)            Novel long-term information on key physiological processes that underlie variations in tree growth, and

(iii)          Improved carbon cycle models that can be employed to revise predictions of the coupled carbon-cycle climate system.

Hence i-TREE will significantly contribute towards a seamless understanding of the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to long-term environmental change and will ultimately help to reduce uncertainties about the magnitude and direction of both the past and future terrestrial carbon sinks.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 09.05.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
20th century changes in carbon isotopes and water-use efficiency: tree-ring-based evaluation of the CLM4.5 and LPX-Bern models
Keller Kathrin M., Lienert Sebastian, Bozbiyik Anil, Stocker Thomas F., Churakova (Sidorova) Olga V., Frank David C., Klesse Stefan, Koven Charles D., Leuenberger Markus, Riley William J., Saurer Matthias, Siegwolf Rolf, Weigt Rosemarie B., Joos Fortunat (2017), 20th century changes in carbon isotopes and water-use efficiency: tree-ring-based evaluation of the CLM4.5 and LPX-Bern models, in Biogeosciences, 14(10), 2641-2673.
Temperate tree species show identical response in tree water deficit but different sensitivities in sap flow to summer soil drying
Brinkmann Nadine, Eugster Werner, Zweifel Roman, Buchmann Nina, Kahmen Ansgar (2016), Temperate tree species show identical response in tree water deficit but different sensitivities in sap flow to summer soil drying, in Tree Physiology, 36(12), 1508-1519.
Are trees able to grow in periods of stem shrinkage?
Zweifel Roman, Haeni Matthias, Buchmann Nina, Eugster Werner (2016), Are trees able to grow in periods of stem shrinkage?, in New Phytologist, 211(3), 839-849.
Contamination risk of stable isotope samples during millingContamination risk of stable isotope samples during milling
Isaac-Renton M., Schneider L., Treydte K. (2016), Contamination risk of stable isotope samples during millingContamination risk of stable isotope samples during milling, in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 30(13), 1513-1522.
Simulating oxygen isotope ratios in tree ring cellulose using a dynamic global vegetation model
Keel Sonja G., Joos Fortunat, Spahni Renato, Saurer Matthias, Weigt Rosemarie B., Klesse Stefan (2016), Simulating oxygen isotope ratios in tree ring cellulose using a dynamic global vegetation model, in Biogeosciences, 13(13), 3869-3886.
Integrating tree-ring and inventory-based measurements of aboveground biomass growth: research opportunities and carbon cycle consequences from a large snow breakage event in the Swiss Alps
Klesse S., Etzold S., Frank D. (2016), Integrating tree-ring and inventory-based measurements of aboveground biomass growth: research opportunities and carbon cycle consequences from a large snow breakage event in the Swiss Alps, in European Journal of Forest Research, 135(2), 297-311.
Improvement of water and light availability after thinning at a xeric site: which matters more? A dual isotope approach
Giuggiola Arnaud, Ogée Jérôme, Rigling Andreas, Gessler Arthur, Bugmann Harald, Treydte Kerstin (2016), Improvement of water and light availability after thinning at a xeric site: which matters more? A dual isotope approach, in New Phytologist, 210(1), 108-121.
Comparison of δ 18 O and δ 13 C values between tree-ring whole wood and cellulose in five species growing under two different site conditions Comparing δ 18 O and δ 13 C values of tree-ring whole wood and cellulose
Weigt Rosemarie B., Bräunlich Stephanie, Zimmermann Lothar, Saurer Matthias, Grams Thorsten E. E., Dietrich Hans-Peter, Siegwolf Rolf T.W., Nikolova Petia S. (2015), Comparison of δ 18 O and δ 13 C values between tree-ring whole wood and cellulose in five species growing under two different site conditions Comparing δ 18 O and δ 13 C values of tree-ring whole wood and cellulose, in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 29(23), 2233-2244.
Qualitative Distinction of Autotrophic and Heterotrophic Processes at the Leaf Level by Means of Triple Stable Isotope (C–O–H) Patterns
Kimak Adam, Kern Zoltan, Leuenberger Markus (2015), Qualitative Distinction of Autotrophic and Heterotrophic Processes at the Leaf Level by Means of Triple Stable Isotope (C–O–H) Patterns, in Frontiers in Plant Science, 6, 1008.
Synoptic drivers of 400 years of summer temperature and precipitation variability on Mt. Olympus, Greece
Klesse Stefan, Ziehmer Malin, Rousakis Georgios, Trouet Valerie, Frank David (2015), Synoptic drivers of 400 years of summer temperature and precipitation variability on Mt. Olympus, Greece, in Climate Dynamics, 45(3-4), 807-824.
Are carbohydrate storage strategies of trees traceable by early–latewood carbon isotope differences?
Kimak Adam, Leuenberger Markus (2015), Are carbohydrate storage strategies of trees traceable by early–latewood carbon isotope differences?, in Trees, 29(3), 859-870.
Water-use efficiency and transpiration across European forests during the Anthropocene
Frank D. C., Poulter B., Saurer M., Esper J., Huntingford C., Helle G., Treydte K., Zimmermann N. E., Schleser G. H., Ahlström A., Ciais P., Friedlingstein P., Levis S., Lomas M., Sitch S., Viovy N., Andreu-Hayles L., Bednarz Z., Berninger F., Boettger T., D‘Alessandro C. M., Daux V., Filot M., Grabner M., et al. (2015), Water-use efficiency and transpiration across European forests during the Anthropocene, in Nature Climate Change, 5(6), 579-583.
Pooled versus separate tree-ring δD measurements, and implications for reconstruction of the Arctic Oscillation in northwestern China
Liu Xiaohong, An Wenling, Treydte Kerstin, Wang Wenzhi, Xu Guobao, Zeng Xiaomin, Wu Guoju, Wang Bo, Zhang Xuanwen (2015), Pooled versus separate tree-ring δD measurements, and implications for reconstruction of the Arctic Oscillation in northwestern China, in Science of The Total Environment, 511, 584-594.
Uniform climate sensitivity in tree-ring stable isotopes across species and sites in a mid-latitude temperate forest
Hartl-Meier C., Zang C., Buntgen U., Esper J., Rothe A., Gottlein A., Dirnbock T., Treydte K. (2015), Uniform climate sensitivity in tree-ring stable isotopes across species and sites in a mid-latitude temperate forest, in Tree Physiology, 35(1), 4-15.
Simultaneous Determination of Stable Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen Isotopes in Cellulose
Loader N.J., Street-Perrott F.A., Daley T.J., Hughes P.D.M., Kimak A., Levanič T., Mallon G., Mauquoy D., Robertson I., Roland T.P., van Bellen S., Ziehmer M.M., Leuenberger M. (2015), Simultaneous Determination of Stable Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen Isotopes in Cellulose, in Analytical Chemistry, 87(1), 376-380.
The enigma of effective path length for 18O enrichment in leaf water of conifers
John Roden, Ansgar Kahmen, Nina Buchmann, Rolf Siegwolf (2015), The enigma of effective path length for 18O enrichment in leaf water of conifers, in Plant, Cell & Environment, 38, 2551-2565.
Spatial variability and temporal trends in water-use efficiency of European forests
Saurer Matthias, Spahni Renato, Joos Fortunat, Leuenberger Markus, Loader Neil, McCarrol Danny, Gagen Mary, Puolter B, Siegwolf Rolf, Andreu-Hayles Laia, Boettger Tatjana, Dorado Linan I, Fairchild I, Gutierrez Emilie, Haupt M, Hilasvuori Emmi, Heinrich I, Helle Gerd, Grudd H, Jalkanen R, Levanic T, Linderholm H, Robertson Ian, Sonninen E, Treydte Kerstin (2014), Spatial variability and temporal trends in water-use efficiency of European forests, in Global Change Biology, 20(12), 3700-3712.
The influence of sampling design on tree-ring-based quantification of forest growth
Nehrbass-Ahles Christoph, Babst Flurin, Klesse Stefan, Nötzli Magdalena, Bouriaud Olivier, Neukom Raphael, Dobbertin Matthias, Frank David (2014), The influence of sampling design on tree-ring-based quantification of forest growth, in Global Change Biology, 20(9), 2867-2885.
Seasonal transfer of oxygen isotopes from precipitation and soil to the tree ring: source water versus needle water enrichment
Treydte Kerstin, Boda Sonja, Graf Pannatier Elisabeth, Fonti Patrick, Frank David, Ullrich Bastian, Saurer Matthias, Siegwolf Rolf, Battipaglia Giovanna, Werner Willy, Gessler Arthur (2014), Seasonal transfer of oxygen isotopes from precipitation and soil to the tree ring: source water versus needle water enrichment, in New Phytologist, 202(3), 772-783.
Precipitation isoscape of high reliefs: interpolation scheme designed and tested for monthly resolved precipitation oxygen isotope records of an Alpine domain
Kern Z., Kohán B., Leuenberger M. (2014), Precipitation isoscape of high reliefs: interpolation scheme designed and tested for monthly resolved precipitation oxygen isotope records of an Alpine domain, in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14(4), 1897-1907.
The multifaceted relationship between leaf water 18O enrichment and transpiration rate
Cernusak Lucas, Kahmen Ansgar (2013), The multifaceted relationship between leaf water 18O enrichment and transpiration rate, in Plant Cell and Environment, Volume 36(Issue 7), 1239-1241.
Is the dual-isotope conceptual model fully operational?
John Roden, Rolf Siegwolf (2012), Is the dual-isotope conceptual model fully operational?, in Tree Physiology, 32, 1179-1182.
Environmental drivers of tree growth and water-use efficiency of Fagus sylvatica (L.) at Lägeren in the 20th century: the changing roles of climate vs N deposition.
G. Tomlinson, P.Waldner, R. Siegwolf, B Rihm, S. Klesse, R. Weigt, N. Buchmann, Environmental drivers of tree growth and water-use efficiency of Fagus sylvatica (L.) at Lägeren in the 20th century: the changing roles of climate vs N deposition., in Tree Physiology.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Bayrische landesanstalt für Wald und Forstwirtschaft Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. Matthias Gehre Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Nikolova, Baumartenvergleich WKS, M28 of the Landesanstalt f. Wald und Forst, Freising, Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Profs. Dr. Thorsten Grams & Rainer Matyssek, TU Münschen, Freising-Weihenstephan Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Gerd Helle, GFZ Potsdam Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Dr. Christian Körner Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Dr. John Roden, Southern Oregon University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. Tatjana Böttger, UFZ Leipzig-Halle Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Danny McCarroll Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
FACEing the future / food production and ecosystems under a changing climate Talk given at a conference Ecophysiology of plants under elevated CO2 exposure 26.09.2016 Giessen, Germany Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter;
European Geosciences Union, General Assembly (EGU), 2016 Poster Tree ring isotopes of beech and spruce in response to short-term climate variability across Central European sites: Common and contrasting physiological mechanisms 17.04.2016 VIENNA, Austria Weigt Rosemarie; Frank David Charles; Treydte Kerstin; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter; Klesse Stefan; Saurer Matthias;
European Geosciences Union, General Assembly (EGU), 2016 Talk given at a conference The suitability of the dual isotope approach (δ13C and δ18O) in tree ring studies 14.03.2016 Vienna, Austria Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter; Saurer Matthias;
GfÖ (Gesellschaft für Ökologie) conference Talk given at a conference Temperate European tree species show different sensitivities in sap flow to summer dry spells 01.09.2015 Göttingen, Germany Brinkmann Nadine; Buchmann Nina;
Invited talk at the Univ. Göttingen (GE) Individual talk The Swiss FluxNet: Lessons learned about carbon and water dynamics of two Swiss forests 17.06.2015 Göttingen, Germany Buchmann Nina;
European Geosciences Union, General Assembly, (EGU), 2015 Poster Comparison of water-use efficiency estimates based on tree-ring carbon isotopes with simulations of a dynamic vegetation model 13.04.2015 Vienna, Austria Spahni Renato; Treydte Kerstin; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter; Frank David Charles; Saurer Matthias; Joos Fortunat;
AGU (American Geophysical Union) Fall Meeting/Conference Poster Seasonality of precipitation, soil water and xylem water δ18O values of four common Swiss tree species 17.12.2014 San Francisco, United States of America Brinkmann Nadine; Buchmann Nina;
GfÖ (Gesellschaft für Ökologie) Talk given at a conference Water relations of European tree species in frequently occurring short dry periods 11.09.2014 Hildesheim, Germany Buchmann Nina; Brinkmann Nadine;
European Geosciences Union Talk given at a conference Tree growth variability under environmental changes – identifying underlying physiological mechanisms by stable C and O isotopes 27.04.2014 Vienna, Austria Saurer Matthias; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter; Weigt Rosemarie;
9th International Conference on Dendrochronology 2014 Talk given at a conference When Concepts of Stable Isotopes in Plant Physiology Do Not “Agree” With Our Expectations 13.01.2014 Melbourne, Australia Saurer Matthias; Streit Kathrin; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter;
IUFRO2013 conference “Vegetation Response to Climate Change and Air Pollution – Unifying Evidence and Research across Northern and Southern Hemisphere” of the International Union of Forest Research Organisation Talk given at a conference Tree growth in a changing environment – identifying physiological mechanisms using stable C and O isotopes in tree rings. 01.09.2013 Ilhéus, Bahia, Brazil Saurer Matthias; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter; Weigt Rosemarie;
Conference on Isotopes of Carbon, Water, and Geotracers in Paleoclimate Research, 26 – 28 August 2013, Bern: Poster “Long-term variability of tree growth in a changing environment – identifying physiological mechanisms using stable C and O isotopes in tree rings: iTREE 26.08.2013 Bern, Switzerland Weigt Rosemarie; Saurer Matthias; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter;
Conference on Isotopes of Carbon, Water, and Geotracers in Paleoclimate Research Talk given at a conference Using isotope ratios in tree-rings and vegetation models to study the link between water and carbon fluxes in plants 26.08.2013 Bern, Switzerland Leuenberger Markus; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter; Saurer Matthias; Spahni Renato; Joos Fortunat; Frank David Charles;
Isotopes of Carbon, Water, and Geotracers in Paleoclimate Research Talk given at a conference Tree responses in a changing environment – identifying physiological mechanisms using tree ring width and stable C and O isotopes 16.08.2013 Bern, Switzerland Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter; Saurer Matthias; Weigt Rosemarie;
AGU (American Geophysical Union) Fall Meeting/Conference (2013) Talk given at a conference The enigma of effective pathlength for 18O enrichment in leaf water of conifers 09.12.2012 San Francisco, United States of America Buchmann Nina; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter;
Invited at the Univ. Sidney. Individual talk The C balance of mountain forests: Responses to natural & human impacts 09.05.2012 Sydney, Australia Buchmann Nina;
European Geosciences Union, General Assembly, Poster Detecting longterm environmental long term changes in Tree rings, grwoth and stable isotopes 25.04.2012 Vienna, Austria, Austria Keel Sonja; Spahni Renato; Siegwolf Rolf Theodor Walter; Klesse Stefan; Frank David Charles; Kimák Adám; Leuenberger Markus; Weigt Rosemarie; Buchmann Nina; Treydte Kerstin; Brinkmann Nadine; Joos Fortunat; Saurer Matthias;
Invited talk at CSIRO (4.4.12) Individual talk “The Swiss FluxNet: GHG fluxes & ecosystem responses to natural & anthropogenic impacts” 04.04.2012 Canberra (AU), Australia Buchmann Nina;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Third Developpers Workshop 25.02.2014 Bern, Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
159563 Climate and Environmental Physics 01.04.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)
130782 Effect of experimentally applied drought and warming stress on three oak species and provenances using C and O stable isotopes in leaves, shoots, stem and roots 01.12.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)
166162 Compound-specific dual isotope analysis for the investigation of plant response to environmental change 01.08.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
145227 Path flow of oxygen isotopes in water from branch to needle 01.09.2012 International short research visits
150003 Compound-specific oxygen isotope analysis of carbohydrates as a novel tool in ecophysiology and climate research 01.08.2014 Project funding (Div. I-III)
147174 Climate and Environmental Physics 01.04.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)
153428 Tracing rapid plant responses to environmental changes 01.09.2014 Project funding (Div. I-III)
175888 Disentangling source water and leaf water signals in highly resolved oxygen isotope data from tree rings 01.05.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
144255 Alpine Jahrringisotopen Zeitreihen im Holozän 01.05.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)
155070 Non-linear, threshold, and mechanistic constraints on tree growth: application of statistical and process modelling to tree-ring data 01.06.2014 International short research visits
172476 Climate and Environmental Physics: Modeling Global Biogeochemical Cycles in the Earth System (bgcCEP) 01.04.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)
121838 Climate change and tree physiological response in Siberia and in the Alps during warm and cold periods of the last 1500 years 01.02.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)
132768 Carbon isotope fractionation during respiration: Mechanisms and environmental drivers 01.03.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
126028 Swiss canopy crane (SCC): CO2-enrichment 01.04.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)
154157 TreePulse - Water use strategies of Australian tree species to survive drought - a pulse labelling experiment with isotope tracers 01.02.2014 International short research visits

Abstract

SummaryTrees play are a critical role in the carbon cycle - their photosynthetic assimilation is one of the largest terrestrial carbon fluxes and their standing biomass represents the largest carbon pool of the terrestrial biosphere. Understanding how tree physiology and growth respond to long-term environmental change is pivotal to predict the magnitude and direction of the terrestrial carbon sink. iTREE is an interdisciplinary research framework to capitalize on synergies among leading dendro-climatologists, plant physiologists, isotope specialists, and global carbon cycle modellers with the objectives of reducing uncertainties related to tree/forest growth in the context of changing natural environments. Cross-cutting themes in our project are tree rings, stable isotopes, and mechanistic modelling. We will (i) establish a European network of tree-ring based isotope time-series to retrodict inter-annual to long-term tree physiological changes, (ii) conduct laboratory and field experiments to adapt a mechanistic isotope model to derive plant physiological variables from tree-ring isotopes, (iii) implement this model into a dynamic global vegetation model, and perform subsequent model-data validation exercises to refine model representation of plant physiological processes and (iv) attribute long-term variation in tree growth to plant physiological and environmental drivers, and identify how our refined knowledge revises predictions of the coupled carbon-cycle climate system.We will contribute to i) advanced quantifications of long-term variation in tree growth across Central Europe, ii) novel long-term information on key physiological processes that underlie variations in tree growth, and iii) improved carbon cycle models that can be employed to revise predictions of the coupled carbon-cycle climate system. Hence iTREE will result in a seamless understanding of the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to long-term environmental change, and ultimately help reduce uncertainties of the magnitude and direction of the past and future terrestrial carbon sink.
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