Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Intra-annual stem diameter growth of Tamarix ramosissima and association with hydroclimatic factors in the lower reaches of China’s Heihe River


High-resolution observations of cambial phenology and intra-annual growth dynamics are useful approaches for understanding the response of tree growth to climate and environmental change. During the past two decades, rapid socioeconomic development has increased the demand for water resources in the oases of the middle reaches of the Heihe River in northwestern China, and the lower reaches of the Heihe River have changed from a perennial river to an ephemeral stream with a decreased and degraded riparian zone. Tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima) is the dominant shrub species of the desert riparian forest. In this study, the daily and seasonal patterns of tamarisk stem diameter growth, including the main period of tree ring formation, were examined. Observations concerning the driving forces of growth changes, along with implications for the ecology of the dendrohydrological area and management of desert riparian forests in similar arid regions, are also presented. The diurnal-seasonal activity of stem diameter and the dynamics of growth ring formation were studied using a point dendrometer and micro-coring methods during the 2012 growing season in shrub tamarisk in a desert riparian forest stand in the lower reaches of the Heihe River in Ejin Banner, Inner Mongolia of northwestern China. Generally, the variation in diurnal diameter of tamarisk was characterized by an unstable multi-peak pattern, with the cumulative stem diameter growth over the growing season following an S-shaped curve. The period from late May to early August was the main period of stem diameter growth and growth-ring formation. Among all of the hydroclimatic factors considered in this study, only groundwater depth was significantly correlated with stem diameter increment during this period. Therefore, for the dendrochronological study, the annual rings of the tamarisk can be used to reconstruct processes that determine the regional water regime, such as river runoff and fluctuations in groundwater depth. For the management of desert riparian forests, suitable groundwater depths must be maintained in the spring and summer to sustain tree health and a suitable stand structure.


Tamarix ramosissima; stem diameter growth; tree ring formation; hydroclimatic factors; diurnal-seasonal scale; Heihe River

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