Local Hydroclimatic Influence on Black Spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) Anatomical Traits in Two Boreal Fen Peatlands

Karisa Tyler
Daniele Castagneri
Myroslava Khomik
Matthew Elmes
Patrick Fonti
Georg von Arx
Michael Pisaric
Richard Michael Petrone
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As global temperatures increase, ongoing research is essential in understanding the long-term effects of climate change on tree dominated wetlands. Acting as a significant landform in the boreal forest, treed wetlands such as fens are a key water source, transporting water and nutrients across the region to help regulate water flow. Found predominantly in fens and bogs, black spruce is a common species in Canada’s boreal forest.          

To better understand the long-term effects of climate change on black spruce growth, Tyler et al. (2022) studied two black spruce-dominated boreal fen sites within the Alberta Oil Sands Region (AOSR). Researchers examined the effect of climatic controls such as temperature, precipitation, and vapor pressure deficit (VPD) on black spruce radial growth, and anatomical features (e.g  cell expansion). Researchers found that the cell production of the plants vascular tissue was controlled by air temperature in cool wet climates, and precipitation in warm dry climates. However, it was also found that dry conditions could potentially eliminate the benefits of warmer growing seasons. This research works to contribute to our understanding of the growth and carbon storage capacity of boreal peatland black spruce, when exposed to varying climatic stresses or future climate scenarios. Learn more here