Using a spatiotemporal climate model to assess population-level Douglas-fir growth sensitivity to climate change across large climatic gradients in British Columbia, Canada
Effective adaptation of forest management practices to climate change will require a good understanding of the ecological and climatic factors influencing tree sensitivities and responses to climate. Using tree-ring data collected from 33 stands of mature interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) spanning a wide climatic range in British Columbia (BC), Canada, we present an approach combining high-resolution spatiotemporal climate data with traditional dendroecological analyses to quantify relationships between population climate–growth sensitivity and provenance (i.e., seed-source origin) climate. Key results showed that Douglas-fir climate–growth sensitivities were strongly linked to provenance climate and varied in coherent patterns across climatic gradients. Climate–growth sensitivities and responses were sometimes opposite between provenances from disparate climates. Perhaps most importantly, our results showed that Douglas-fir productivity across most of its range was sensitive to moisture limitations, and this sensitivity increased strongly with decreasing provenance mean annual precipitation and increasing heat-moisture index. Using geographic information systems, we visualize the link between provenance mean annual precipitation and climatic sensitivity of Douglas-fir across BC to identify “high risk” populations. By understanding the link between biological responses and climate, forest managers may be able to spatially identify sensitive populations using spatiotemporal climate data.