Faculté des sciences

Rockfall and snow avalanche impacts leave different anatomical signatures in tree rings of juvenile Larix decidua

Stoffel, Markus ; Hitz, Oliver M.

In: Tree Physiology, 2008, vol. 28, no. 11, p. 1713–1720

Rockfall and snow avalanche events often cause injury to European larch (Larix decidua Mill.) trees, giving rise to the formation of callus tissue and tangential rows of traumatic resin ducts (TRDs). We analyzed and quantified anatomical reactions of juvenile trees injured before the start of the growing season by snow avalanches (15 trees, 324 cross sections) or rockfalls (18 trees, 270 cross... Plus

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    Summary
    Rockfall and snow avalanche events often cause injury to European larch (Larix decidua Mill.) trees, giving rise to the formation of callus tissue and tangential rows of traumatic resin ducts (TRDs). We analyzed and quantified anatomical reactions of juvenile trees injured before the start of the growing season by snow avalanches (15 trees, 324 cross sections) or rockfalls (18 trees, 270 cross sections). Traumatic resin ducts were observed in the growth ring formed following injury in 94.3% of the rockfall samples and 87.3% of the snow avalanche samples. Traumatic resin ducts were formed at the beginning of the new annual ring around wounds caused by rockfalls. In contrast, in trees injured by snow avalanches, TRDs were not formed until after the formation of several rows of early earlywood (EE) tracheids (mean ± SD = 4.19 ± 2.56 rows). The dimensions of the EE tracheids observed in the snow avalanche samples were greatly reduced in the tissues bordering the wound, with radial width reaching an average of only 50% and lumen cross-sectional area an average of only 46% of pre-event values. It is therefore possible to differentiate injuries due to past snow avalanches from injuries due to rockfall based on anatomical growth reactions in the tissues bordering scars.