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Climatic signals in growth and its relation to ENSO events of two Prosopis species following a latitudinal gradient in South America

Authors

  • BERNAT C. LÓPEZ,

    1. CREAF (Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications) and Unit of Ecology, Department of Animal and Plant Biology and Ecology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, E-08193, Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain,
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  • RODOLFO RODRÍGUEZ,

    1. Universidad de Piura, Av. Ramón Múgica 131. Urb. San Eduardo. Piura. Perú,
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  • CARLOS A. GRACIA,

    1. CREAF (Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications), Autonomous University of Barcelona, E-08193, Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain,
    2. Faculty of Biology, Department of Ecology, University of Barcelona, Diagonal 645, E-08028 Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
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  • SANTIAGO SABATÉ

    1. CREAF (Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications), Autonomous University of Barcelona, E-08193, Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain,
    2. Faculty of Biology, Department of Ecology, University of Barcelona, Diagonal 645, E-08028 Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
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tel. +34 935811920, fax +34 935814151, e-mail: bernat@creaf.uab.es

Abstract

Semiarid environments throughout the world have lost a major part of their woody vegetation and biodiversity due to the effects of wood cutting, cattle grazing and subsistence agriculture. The resulting state is typically used for cattle production, but the productivity of these systems is often very low, and erosion of the unprotected soil is a common problem. Such dry-land degradation is of great international concern, not only because the resulting state is hardly productive but also because it paves the way to desertification. The natural distribution of the genus Prosopis includes arid and semiarid zones of the Americas, Africa and Asia, but the majority of the Prosopis species are, however, native to the Americas. In order to assess a likely gradient in the response of tree species to precipitation, temperature and their connection to El Niño southern oscillation (ENSO) events, two Prosopis species were chosen along a latitudinal gradient in Latin America, from northern Peru to central Chile: Prosopis pallida from a semi-arid land in northern and southern Peru and P. chilensis from a semiarid land in central Chile. Growth rings of each species were crossdated at each sampling site using classical dendrochronological techniques. Chronologies were related with instrumental climatic records in each site, as well as with SOI and N34 series. Cross-correlation, spectral and wavelet analysis techniques were used to assess the relation of growth with precipitation and temperature. Despite the long distance among sites, the two Prosopis species presented similar responses. Thus, the two species' growth is positively correlated to precipitation, while with temperature it is not. In northern Peru, precipitation and growth of P. pallida present a similar cyclic pattern, with a period of around 3 years. On the other hand, P. pallida in southern Peru, and P. chilensis also present this cyclic pattern, but also another one with lower frequency, coinciding with the pattern of precipitation. Both cycles are within the range of the ENSO band.

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