Midwinter dehardening of montane red spruce during a natural thaw
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Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 25: 2040-2044.
We documented 3 to 14°C of dehardening in current-year foliage of 10 mature, montane red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) trees during a natural thaw from 12 to 21 January 1995. Mean cold tolerance was about -47°C before the onset of thaw conditions, and individuals ranged from -38 to -52°C. After 3 days of thaw, mean cold tolerance dropped to -39°C, with a range of -32 to -44°C. Trees did not regain prethaw levels of cold tolerance until sometime between 31 January and 9 February, or 10 to 20 days after subfreezing temperatures resumed. The least cold tolerant tree was at risk of injury when temperature at the field site fell to an estimated -33.8°C on 6 February, and this same tree developed noticeably more injury than other trees when injury symptoms developed in late March. No evidence of dehardening was found in balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) trees from the same stand. All red spruce trees also showed the potential for net assimilation of carbon during the thaw, as determined by measurement of photosynthetic capacity under laboratory conditions. From the abrupt and substantial dehardening and persistence of the dehardened state, we conclude that dehardening during periods of warm weather may be a significant factor in freezing injury and decline of montane red spruce populations.
Strimbeck, G.R.; Schaberg, P.G.; DeHayes, D.H.; Shane, J.B.; Hawley, G.J. 1995. Midwinter dehardening of montane red spruce during a natural thaw. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 25: 2040-2044.