Limited capacity of tree growth to mitigate the global greenhouse effect under predicted warming

Nat Commun. 2019 May 15;10(1):2171. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10174-4.


It is generally accepted that animal heartbeat and lifespan are often inversely correlated, however, the relationship between productivity and longevity has not yet been described for trees growing under industrial and pre-industrial climates. Using 1768 annually resolved and absolutely dated ring width measurement series from living and dead conifers that grew in undisturbed, high-elevation sites in the Spanish Pyrenees and the Russian Altai over the past 2000 years, we test the hypothesis of grow fast-die young. We find maximum tree ages are significantly correlated with slow juvenile growth rates. We conclude, the interdependence between higher stem productivity, faster tree turnover, and shorter carbon residence time, reduces the capacity of forest ecosystems to store carbon under a climate warming-induced stimulation of tree growth at policy-relevant timescales.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't