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Temporal variation in δ 13C, wood density and microfibril angle in variously irrigated Eucalyptus nitens


Schulze,  E. D.
Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Drew, D. M., Schulze, E. D., & Downes, G. M. (2009). Temporal variation in δ 13C, wood density and microfibril angle in variously irrigated Eucalyptus nitens. Functional Plant Biology, 36(1), 1-10. doi:10.1071/FP08180.

Wood can serve as a record of past climate, recording tree responses to changing conditions. It is also valuable in understanding tree responses to environment to optimise forest management. Stable carbon isotope ratios (delta C-13), wood density and microfibril angle (MFA) are potentially useful wood property parameters for these purposes. The goal of this study was to understand how delta C-13 varied over time in response to cycles of soil drying and wetting and to variation in temperature in Eucalyptus nitens Deane & Maiden, in concert with wood density and MFA. delta C-13 increases did not necessarily occur when water stress was highest, but, rather, when it was relieved. Our hypothesis is that this was a result of the use of previously fixed carbohydrate reserves when growth and metabolic activity was resumed after a period of dormancy. MFA in particular showed concomitant temporal variation with delta C-13. A peak in delta C-13 may not coincide temporally with an increase in water stress, but with a decrease, when higher growth rates enable the final incorporation of earlier stored photosynthate into mature wood. This has implications for using delta C-13 as a tool to understand past environmental conditions using radial measurements of wood properties. However, interpreting this data with other wood properties may be helpful for understanding past tree responses. [References: 63]