Neotropical Hypericum irazuense shrubs reveal recent ENSO variability in Costa Rican páramo
Quesada Román, Adolfo
Ballesteros Cánovas, Juan Antonio
Madrigal González, Jaime
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Climate-vegetation relations in alpine systems play a pivotal role in regulating hydrology and have thus become a research priority in a context of ongoing climate change. In this paper, we investigate how one of the most dominant shrub species in alpine páramo ecosystems of Central America, Hypericum irazuense, responds to changes in precipitation, temperature and El Niño-Southern Oscillation. To this end, we performed dendrochronological and wood-anatomical analyses on H. irazuense to determine the limiting climatic factors driving shrub growth, using a bootstrapped correlation and response function analysis. To validate our results further, we also applied Structural Equation Models (SEM), an approach commonly used in ecology, so as to check for climate-growth relations which consider the control of ENSO on growth through its influence on various climatic parameters. Results support a relation between climate and annual growth of H. irazuense and demonstrate that the latter is sensitive to precipitation and temperature during boreal winters. In addition, we observe a statistically significant correlation between annual growth and La Niña events. The presence of annual growth rings holds H. irazuense as one in only few neotropical species suited for dendrochronological studies. Results of this study could thus contribute to an improved understanding of how changing climatic conditions affect the fragile and threatened páramo ecosystem and the ensuing services it offers in the form of hydrology regulation over the next decades.
External link to the item10.1016/j.dendro.2020.125704
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