Functional and environmental determinants of bark thickness in fire-free temperate rain forest communities

Sarah Richardson, Daniel Laughlin, Michael Lawes, Robert Holdaway, Janet Wilmshurst, Monique Wright, Timothy Curran, Peter Bellingham, Matt McGlone

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Premise of the Study: In fire-prone ecosystems, variation in bark thickness among species and communities has been explained by fire frequency; thick bark is necessary to protect cambium from lethal temperatures. Elsewhere this investment is deemed unnecessary, and thin bark is thought to prevail. However, in rain forest ecosystems where fire is rare, bark thickness varies widely among species and communities, and the causes of this variation remain enigmatic. We tested for functional explanations of bark thickness variation in temperate rain forest species and communities.

    Methods:
    We measured bark thickness in 82 tree species throughout New Zealand temperate rain forests that historically have experienced little fire and applied two complementary analyses. First, we examined correlations between bark traits and leaf habit, and leaf and stem traits. Second, we calculated community-weighted mean (CWM) bark thickness for 272 plots distributed throughout New Zealand to identify the environments in which thicker-barked communities occur.

    Key Results:
    Conifers had higher size-independent bark thickness than evergreen angiosperms. Species with thicker bark or higher bark allocation coefficients were not associated with “slow economic” plant traits. Across 272 forest plots, communities with thicker bark occurred on infertile soils, and communities with thicker bark and higher bark allocation coefficients occurred in cooler, drier climates.

    Conclusions:
    In non-fire-prone temperate rain forest ecosystems, investment in bark is driven by soil resources, cool minimum temperatures, and seasonal moisture stress. The role of these factors in fire-prone ecosystems warrants testing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1590-1598
    Number of pages9
    JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
    Volume102
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

    Fingerprint

    forest communities
    temperate forests
    bark
    rain forests
    Ecosystem
    New Zealand
    Soil
    Cambium
    Coniferophyta
    Angiosperms
    Temperature
    Rainforest
    rain forest
    Climate
    Habits
    forest ecosystems
    forest ecosystem
    Economics
    ecosystems
    ecosystem

    Cite this

    Richardson, S., Laughlin, D., Lawes, M., Holdaway, R., Wilmshurst, J., Wright, M., ... McGlone, M. (2015). Functional and environmental determinants of bark thickness in fire-free temperate rain forest communities. American Journal of Botany, 102(10), 1590-1598. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1500157
    Richardson, Sarah ; Laughlin, Daniel ; Lawes, Michael ; Holdaway, Robert ; Wilmshurst, Janet ; Wright, Monique ; Curran, Timothy ; Bellingham, Peter ; McGlone, Matt. / Functional and environmental determinants of bark thickness in fire-free temperate rain forest communities. In: American Journal of Botany. 2015 ; Vol. 102, No. 10. pp. 1590-1598.
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    title = "Functional and environmental determinants of bark thickness in fire-free temperate rain forest communities",
    abstract = "Premise of the Study: In fire-prone ecosystems, variation in bark thickness among species and communities has been explained by fire frequency; thick bark is necessary to protect cambium from lethal temperatures. Elsewhere this investment is deemed unnecessary, and thin bark is thought to prevail. However, in rain forest ecosystems where fire is rare, bark thickness varies widely among species and communities, and the causes of this variation remain enigmatic. We tested for functional explanations of bark thickness variation in temperate rain forest species and communities.Methods: We measured bark thickness in 82 tree species throughout New Zealand temperate rain forests that historically have experienced little fire and applied two complementary analyses. First, we examined correlations between bark traits and leaf habit, and leaf and stem traits. Second, we calculated community-weighted mean (CWM) bark thickness for 272 plots distributed throughout New Zealand to identify the environments in which thicker-barked communities occur.Key Results: Conifers had higher size-independent bark thickness than evergreen angiosperms. Species with thicker bark or higher bark allocation coefficients were not associated with “slow economic” plant traits. Across 272 forest plots, communities with thicker bark occurred on infertile soils, and communities with thicker bark and higher bark allocation coefficients occurred in cooler, drier climates.Conclusions: In non-fire-prone temperate rain forest ecosystems, investment in bark is driven by soil resources, cool minimum temperatures, and seasonal moisture stress. The role of these factors in fire-prone ecosystems warrants testing.",
    keywords = "allometry, anatomy, bark, biomass allocation, coniferous tree, environmental factor, fire history, forest ecosystem, leaf, plant community, rainforest, temperate environment, temperature effect, New Zealand, Coniferophyta, Magnoliophyta",
    author = "Sarah Richardson and Daniel Laughlin and Michael Lawes and Robert Holdaway and Janet Wilmshurst and Monique Wright and Timothy Curran and Peter Bellingham and Matt McGlone",
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    Richardson, S, Laughlin, D, Lawes, M, Holdaway, R, Wilmshurst, J, Wright, M, Curran, T, Bellingham, P & McGlone, M 2015, 'Functional and environmental determinants of bark thickness in fire-free temperate rain forest communities', American Journal of Botany, vol. 102, no. 10, pp. 1590-1598. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1500157

    Functional and environmental determinants of bark thickness in fire-free temperate rain forest communities. / Richardson, Sarah; Laughlin, Daniel; Lawes, Michael; Holdaway, Robert; Wilmshurst, Janet; Wright, Monique; Curran, Timothy; Bellingham, Peter; McGlone, Matt.

    In: American Journal of Botany, Vol. 102, No. 10, 10.2015, p. 1590-1598.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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    T1 - Functional and environmental determinants of bark thickness in fire-free temperate rain forest communities

    AU - Richardson, Sarah

    AU - Laughlin, Daniel

    AU - Lawes, Michael

    AU - Holdaway, Robert

    AU - Wilmshurst, Janet

    AU - Wright, Monique

    AU - Curran, Timothy

    AU - Bellingham, Peter

    AU - McGlone, Matt

    PY - 2015/10

    Y1 - 2015/10

    N2 - Premise of the Study: In fire-prone ecosystems, variation in bark thickness among species and communities has been explained by fire frequency; thick bark is necessary to protect cambium from lethal temperatures. Elsewhere this investment is deemed unnecessary, and thin bark is thought to prevail. However, in rain forest ecosystems where fire is rare, bark thickness varies widely among species and communities, and the causes of this variation remain enigmatic. We tested for functional explanations of bark thickness variation in temperate rain forest species and communities.Methods: We measured bark thickness in 82 tree species throughout New Zealand temperate rain forests that historically have experienced little fire and applied two complementary analyses. First, we examined correlations between bark traits and leaf habit, and leaf and stem traits. Second, we calculated community-weighted mean (CWM) bark thickness for 272 plots distributed throughout New Zealand to identify the environments in which thicker-barked communities occur.Key Results: Conifers had higher size-independent bark thickness than evergreen angiosperms. Species with thicker bark or higher bark allocation coefficients were not associated with “slow economic” plant traits. Across 272 forest plots, communities with thicker bark occurred on infertile soils, and communities with thicker bark and higher bark allocation coefficients occurred in cooler, drier climates.Conclusions: In non-fire-prone temperate rain forest ecosystems, investment in bark is driven by soil resources, cool minimum temperatures, and seasonal moisture stress. The role of these factors in fire-prone ecosystems warrants testing.

    AB - Premise of the Study: In fire-prone ecosystems, variation in bark thickness among species and communities has been explained by fire frequency; thick bark is necessary to protect cambium from lethal temperatures. Elsewhere this investment is deemed unnecessary, and thin bark is thought to prevail. However, in rain forest ecosystems where fire is rare, bark thickness varies widely among species and communities, and the causes of this variation remain enigmatic. We tested for functional explanations of bark thickness variation in temperate rain forest species and communities.Methods: We measured bark thickness in 82 tree species throughout New Zealand temperate rain forests that historically have experienced little fire and applied two complementary analyses. First, we examined correlations between bark traits and leaf habit, and leaf and stem traits. Second, we calculated community-weighted mean (CWM) bark thickness for 272 plots distributed throughout New Zealand to identify the environments in which thicker-barked communities occur.Key Results: Conifers had higher size-independent bark thickness than evergreen angiosperms. Species with thicker bark or higher bark allocation coefficients were not associated with “slow economic” plant traits. Across 272 forest plots, communities with thicker bark occurred on infertile soils, and communities with thicker bark and higher bark allocation coefficients occurred in cooler, drier climates.Conclusions: In non-fire-prone temperate rain forest ecosystems, investment in bark is driven by soil resources, cool minimum temperatures, and seasonal moisture stress. The role of these factors in fire-prone ecosystems warrants testing.

    KW - allometry

    KW - anatomy

    KW - bark

    KW - biomass allocation

    KW - coniferous tree

    KW - environmental factor

    KW - fire history

    KW - forest ecosystem

    KW - leaf

    KW - plant community

    KW - rainforest

    KW - temperate environment

    KW - temperature effect

    KW - New Zealand

    KW - Coniferophyta

    KW - Magnoliophyta

    U2 - 10.3732/ajb.1500157

    DO - 10.3732/ajb.1500157

    M3 - Article

    VL - 102

    SP - 1590

    EP - 1598

    JO - American Journal of Botany

    JF - American Journal of Botany

    SN - 0002-9122

    IS - 10

    ER -