Variability of the growth-climate relationship of Cembran pine (Pinus cembra L.) within the timberline ecotone

Variability of the growth-climate relationship of Cembran pine (Pinus cembra L.) within the timberline ecotone (2000-2003)

In mountainous areas the upper timberline defines an important climate-related ecotone stretching from closed forests to the treeless alpine zone. Growth variability  of Pinus cembra, which is the dominant coniferous species at the timberline in the central part of the Eastern Alps, was determined along several topographically distinct transects reaching from the timberline up to the treeline and at various habitats at the treeline on Mt. Patscherkofel near Innsbruck. To accomplish this, numerical methods like principal component analysis, non-metric multidimensional scaling, cluster analysis and discriminant analysis were applied. Based on a local climate data set growth-climate relationships were determined from clusters of stands found in numerical analysis and showing high similarity in year-to-year variation of ring widths. Differences in dominant climate factors, which limit annual growth increments, as well as sensitivity to extreme climatic conditions were assessed at established transects. The effects of climatic extremes on tree ring parameters (total and latewood ring width, frost rings, light rings etc.) and prevailing climate in extreme growth years were also determined at the various habitats.

Research Questions

  • The purpose of this dendroclimatological study was to investigate radial growth variability of Cembran pine (Pinus cembra L.) within the timberline ecotone and the extent to which this variability is based on differences in response to climate factors. Results of the proposed dendroclimatological study increased our understanding of the spatio-temporal extent of growth variability, the within-species variability of growth response to dominant climate factors and the individual response of trees to climatic extremes in alpine timberline ecotones.

FWF P14554-BOT [Link]

Personnel involved
Oberhuber Walter


  • Oberhuber W. and W. Kofler (2003) Effects of climate and soil aspect on radial growth of Cembran Pine (Pinus cembra L.) at the alpine timberline ecotone on Mt. Patscherkofel (Tyrol, Austria). Austrian Journal of Forest Science 120:39-50.
  • Oberhuber W. (2004) Influences of climate on radial growth of Pinus cembra within the alpine timberline ecotone. Tree Physiology 24:291-301.
  • Pfeifer K., W. Kofler, W. Oberhuber (2005) Climate related causes of distinct radial growth reductions in Pinus cembra during the last 200 yr. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 14:211-220.
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