European Funds KED - UMK - EU ESF
Academia Copernicana
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Xylem plasticity in response to long-term climate change


Title of the project Xylem plasticity in response to long-term climate change
Primary and secondary scientific disciplines Basic discipline: Biology

Supplementary discipline: Earth Sciences

PhD student Nella Waszak
Faculty Faculty of Biological and Veterinary Science
Supervisor Dr hab. Marcin Koprowski, prof. UMK
Co-supervisor dr Jozica Gricar (Forestry, Slovenian Forestry Institute, Ljubljana)
Description of the project Characteristics and main objectives of the research project:

Trees as long-living organisms react to environmental changes and “archive” the effects of those changes in the structure of tree rings. They can also be dated to a specific calendar year and subdivided by cell structure for studies of seasonal response. The aim of our project is to study the tree response to climate change within the last 1000 years. Understanding basic questions about xylem plasticity in trees is of special importance given current concerns about drought induced tree mortality across the globe (Hoffmann et al., 2011).


The measurements of selected cell parameters, which we plan to study, also serve as a source of information about wood density (Rathgeber, Decoux, & Leban, 2006). Willson et al. (2008) proved the strong tendency for dense wood to be more resistant to cavitation than light wood. We want to extent this study back in time using historical wood and check whether the tendency for dense wood is more common now, during observed climate warming, than 500 hundreds years ago.


Basic tree-ring parameters will be obtained from the measurement of ring widths to the nearest 0.01 mm using. Next, samples will be taken for microslide preparation according to the methodology proposed by Schweingruber, Börner, and Schulze (2006). Cell measurements will be done with a light microscope and an adequate system for image analysis.