Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2023, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (8): 1144-1158.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2022.0300

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Comparison of characteristics of tree trunk xylem vessels among three species of Betula in northeast China and their relationships with climate

BAI Yu-Xin1, YUAN Dan-Yang1, WANG Xing-Chang1, LIU Yu-Long2,3, WANG Xiao-Chun1,*()   

  1. 1Center for Ecological Research, Key Laboratory of Sustainable Forestry Ecosystem Management-Ministry of Education, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
    2Heilongjiang Ecology Institute, Harbin 150081, China
    3Mudanjiang Forest Ecosystem Research Station, Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang 157500, China
  • Received:2022-07-20 Accepted:2022-11-16 Online:2023-08-20 Published:2022-11-16
  • Contact: *WANG Xiao-Chun(
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41877426);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42177421);Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities(2572022AW04)


Aims As pioneer tree species in temperate and boreal forests, birch species (Betula spp.) play an important role in the restoration of secondary forests. Under the current climate change, little is known about the anatomical characteristics of the xylem of different birch species in response to climate change and their adaptation strategies. Therefore, we aim to study the relationship between the characteristics of their xylem vessels and climate, to reveal the response and adaptation strategies of Betula spp. to climate change, and to provide theoretical basis for accurately assessing the impact of climate change on different Betula spp. populations.

Methods In this paper, three natural birch species (B. platyphylla, B. dahurica and B. costata) from Taxus cuspidata National Nature Reserve in Muling, Heilongjiang, China were selected as the research objects. By means of dendrochronology and tree-ring anatomy, we compared these characteristics of xylem vessels of the three birch species, and analyzed the relationship between the characteristics of xylem vessels and seasonal climatic factors, temporal stability, as well as the resistance and recovery of growth to extreme climate.

Important findings (1) The vessel number and vessel density were significantly positively correlated with ring width for all three birch species. The average ring width of B. platyphylla was the widest among the three species, and the vessels were small and numerous. In B. dahurica and B. costata, the average ring width was smaller, and the vessel was significantly larger and less, which made B. dahurica more prone to embolism. (2) The growth of the three species of birch was mainly limited by moisture factors and less limited by temperature. The vessel number of the three birch species was positively correlated with precipitation in each season, and the strongest positive correlation was found in B. costata. The increase of temperature in spring promoted the increase of number of vessels, while the number of birch vessels decreased with the increase of temperature in non-growing seasons. As the climate warmed, B. dahurica tended to have smaller and more vessels, while B. costata tended to have smaller and fewer vessels. (3) The trends of resistance and recovery to drought in the growing season and heat in the non-growing season were similar among the three species, and the resistance and recovery to heat in the non-growing season were lower among the three species. There was great variation among individuals of B. dahurica in response to high temperature in non-growing season. We found that different birch species had different strategies of xylem vessel characteristics to cope with climate warming. B. platyphylla adopted a more conservative strategy (producing more and smaller vessels) to cope with climate change, while B. costata initially adopted a strategy to improve water transport efficiency through large vessels, which may lead to the first decline and even death. B. dahurica’s strategy was between B. platyphylla and B. costata, with moderate number and size of vessels.

Key words: trunk, xylem anatomy, vessel, climate warming, extreme climate, Betula