Assessing the climatic sensitivity of Douglas-fir at its northern range margins in British Columbia, Canada
Northern hemisphere tree species growing at their northern range margins may be particularly responsive to climate change and could provide important information regarding future broad-scale responses. We analyzed and compared tree-ring data between five Douglas-fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca (Mirb.) Franco] populations growing at the species’ northernmost distribution in British Columbia, Canada, and five populations located 150 km to the southeast. We quantified climate–growth relationships using uni- and multivariate techniques at different temporal scales. Our data suggest that (1) even at its northernmost distributions, precipitation limits long-term mature Douglas-fir radial growth more than temperatures, (2) northernmost Douglas-fir populations are distinct from populations located further within the species’ range in terms of certain key short-term growth responses, and (3) northernmost Douglas-fir growth sensitivities to climate may be increasing over time. In the future, mature Douglas-fir productivity in the northern portion of its range may be primarily limited by precipitation, and responses may be strongest at the species’ range margins.