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Wood anatomy variability under contrasted environmental conditions of common deciduous and evergreen species from central African forests

  • Tarelkin, Yegor1, 2, 3
  • Hufkens, Koen4
  • Hahn, Stephan5
  • Van den Bulcke, Jan3
  • Bastin, Jean-François1, 6
  • Ilondea, Bhely Angoboy2, 7
  • Debeir, Olivier5
  • Van Acker, Joris3
  • Beeckman, Hans2
  • De Cannière, Charles1
  • 1 Université Libre de Bruxelles, Landscape Ecology and Plant Production Systems Unit, Bruxelles, 1050, Belgium , Bruxelles (Belgium)
  • 2 Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), Wood Biology Service, Leuvensesteenweg 13, Tervuren, 3080, Belgium , Tervuren (Belgium)
  • 3 Universiteit Gent, Laboratory of Wood Technology, Department of Forest and Water Management, Coupure Links 653, Ghent, 9000, Belgium , Ghent (Belgium)
  • 4 Harvard University, Richardson Lab, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Cambridge, MA, USA , Cambridge (United States)
  • 5 Université Libre de Bruxelles, Laboratories of Image, Signal processing and Acoustics, Bruxelles, 1050, Belgium , Bruxelles (Belgium)
  • 6 ETH Zürich, Institute of Integrative Biology, Department of Environmental Systems Science, Zurich, 8092, Switzerland , Zurich (Switzerland)
  • 7 Institut National pour l’Etude et la Recherche Agronomique, Kinshasa, Congo , Kinshasa (Congo - Kinshasa)
Published Article
Publication Date
Mar 04, 2019
DOI: 10.1007/s00468-019-01826-5
Springer Nature


Key messageWood density profiles revealed significant differences in wood formation along a precipitation gradient in the Congo Basin. The response of trees to climate change varies depending on leaf phenology properties.AbstractTropical forests face increasing pressures due to climate change and yet, the response of trees to varying climate conditions remains poorly understood. In the present study, we aim to fill some gaps by comparing the leaf phenology and the pith-to-bark wood anatomical variability of 13 common tree species of the Democratic Republic of Congo among three sites presenting contrasted rainfall regimes. We measured pith-to-bark density profiles on which we applied wavelet analyses to extract three descriptors, which we further used as proxies to describe and compare wood anatomical variability. They describe the growth periodicity, regularity and the amplitude of variations of the anatomical patterns. Our results show that evergreen species tend to have significantly higher anatomical variability where rainfall seasonality is more pronounced. Deciduous species, in spite of shedding leaves for longer periods in drier sites, did not show significant differences in their anatomical variability. The analyses of density profiles and phenology records suggest that the seasonality of precipitation influences both leaf phenology and cambial activity. The high intra-site variability in phenology and anatomy suggests that site-related micro-climate conditions also influence cambial activity.

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