# A test of treeline theory on a montane permafrost island

Körner, Christian and Hoch, Günter. (2006) A test of treeline theory on a montane permafrost island. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 38 (1). pp. 113-119.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5249036

Trees have a common high elevation distribution limit at similar soil temperatures across the globe. Here we tested whether low temperature in the root zone alone can induce the well known dwarfing at the low temperature growth limit of trees by using a natural experiment with trees growing oil low elevation permafrost ground. At the natural high elevation treeline, both air (shoot) and soil (root) temperature are low, while at the montane permafrost site in the Swiss Jura Mountains, roots are cold, but not shoots. Soil temperature records confirmed that the low elevation study site resembles thermal conditions typical for the high elevation treeline. The warm air conditions have no ameliorating effect on tree growth. Irrespective of shoot temperatures, the root zone temperature and the associated metabolism appear to determine tree growth at this site. The test revealed a critical role of soil temperature, which by itself is sufficient to explain it growth limit of trees associated with a seasonal mean soil temperature at 10 cm depth of around 6 degrees C.