Monday, August 4, 2014

University of Padua Dendrochronology Laboratory



I had the opportunity to visit the University of Padua Dendrochronology Laboratory which is run by Dr. Marco Carrer, for a few days at the end of my Northern Italy tour. Dr. Daniele Castagneri was my gracious host and tour guide. Daniele and I had met at the WorldDendro post-conference tour in New Zealand back in January so it was good to see him again. Although seeing Daniele in his home territory made me start to think about how I had been gone from my home for about four months at this point. Daniele met me at the train station and took me to my accommodations. Over a three day period, he showed me around the University of Padua lab, took me up to the Eastern Italian Alps (see a later post on that), gave me a tour of the Study Centre on the Alpine Environment (C.S.A.I.), and brought me to Venice for a wonderful evening before my flight back to Greece early the next morning.

University of Padua Dendrochronology Laboratory
Dr. Marco Carrer (Assistant Professor, Specialties: Dendrochronology - Forest Dynamics - Climate Change)
Dr. Tommaso Anfodillo (Professor of Forest Ecology, Specialties: Water Relations in Forestry Species - Forest Dynamics - Hydraulic Architecture)
Dr. Gaia Petit (Assistant Professor, Specialties: Ecology)
Dr. Emanuele Lingua (Assistant Professor, Specialties: Forest ecology)
Dr. Daniele Castagneri (Post doc, Specialties: Dendroecology - Wood Anatomy)
Vinicio Carraro (Technician - Wood Anatomy)


Study Centre on the Alpine Environment
Raffaella Dibona Measurements and data collecting in forest - dendrochronological analysis
Roberto Menardi Fields activities - dendrochronological measurements - Trephor tool

Dr. Daniele Castagneri and Dr. Marco Carrer in Venice.

The dendrochronology laboratory is headed up by Dr. Marco Carrer who specializes in dendroclimatology and dendroecology. He has examined Larix decidua, Abies alba, and Pinus cembra for climate response (Carrer and Urbinati 2004, Carrer and Urbinati 2006, Carrer et al. 2007, Carrer et al. 2010) and has examined high-elevation tree response to global warming (Career et al. 1998, Carrer and Urbinati 2001).  Dr. Carrer was invited to a workshop at the WSL in Switzerland to collaborate on the Old World Drought Atlas with Dr. Ed Cook and others, so he was not able to meet with me at the lab. He was kind enough to rush back to Venice at the end of that workshop so that I could meet with him in Venice on my last night. Dr. Carrer had relatives in Venice as he was growing up, so he spent much time in the city. It was great to have a tour of Venice from some locals and to spend a pleasant meal and evening talking with Marco and Dr. Giai Petit who was also a resident of Venice and affiliated with the University of Padua Dendrochronology Laboratory.


I met with Dr. Tommaso Anfodillo at the University of Padua who works very closely with Dr. Marco Carrer for climate response and with Dr. Giai Petit on wood anatomy of tree rings. These three researchers have been examining wood anatomy in trees (specifically on vessel size in angiosperms as well as xylem conduits in conifers) for many years and have been able to demonstrate that vessel area can be a function of climatic parameters although tree height needs to be normalized out of the equation for accurate measurement other parameters (Anfodillo et al. 1998, Anfodillo et al. 2002, Anfodillo et al. 2006, Petit et al. 2008, Petit and Anfodillo 2009, Petit et al. 2010, Petit et al. 2011, Anfodillo et al. 2012, Olson et al. 2014, Petit et al. 2014). I was very excited to hear about their work and use of the program WinCell (part of the WinDendro package by Regent Instruments Inc.) to quantify vessel area per ring. I would like to apply their methods to examine disturbance ecology in trees (specifically with periodical cicada outbreaks, fire, and defoliating insects), but tree height is a very important determination of vessel size and currently I don’t systematically collect tree height as I sample for disturbance ecology.  This is another piece of information that I will need to collect in the future if I want to start to explore wood anatomy as another indicator of disturbance events. I think this technique would be especially useful to examine how periodical cicadas may be affecting the water use efficiency in hardwood trees in the eastern United States during their nymphal stages underground as they act as a root parasite to these trees and drain water and nutrients form the trees.

Dr. Daniele Castagneri and Vinicio Carraro in one of the lab spaces.

Dr. Daniele Castagneri is a post doc in the Dendrochronology lab who specializes in dendroecology and works with wood anatomy as well. I was excited to hear about his work with coarse woody debris (Castagneri et al. 2010a) since I had a masters student (Ross Alexander) who recently completed a MS Thesis on the subject for the Eastern Deciduous Forest. Dr. Castagneri also works with stand structure, ecological factors, and climate response with Picea abies (Norway Spruce) in sites in Italy (Castagneri et al. 2008, Castagneri et al. 2010b, Castagneri et al. 2012) as well as Norway (Castagneri et al. 2013).


Dr. Emanuele Lingua works in the Ecology Group at the University of Padua although I had the opportunity to meet him while I was visiting Dr. Renzo Motta at the University of Turin. Dr. Lingua focuses on forest ecology and specifically has studied stand structure along an elevational gradient in the Italian Alps (Lingua et al. 2008).


The University of Padua Dendrochronology Laboratory was similar to many of the dendrochronology labs that I have toured throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. They had a room dedicated to sample storage for cross sections and cores.

  

They used a variety of measuring machines (the greatest variety that I have seen) which included Velmex (at the field station) and Aniol (an older measuring system) at the University. I do not recall seeing any LinTab measuring systems which are the European standard and developed by RinnTech.


They use a rotary microtome by Leica RM2145 for their wood anatomy slide preparation.


They have a very nice camera imaging system connected to a slide microscope to capture the data from their wood anatomy slides.


Because I organize the North American Dendroecological Fieldweek (NADEF), I am always excited to see a good field station that is equipped to handle large groups for field studies and include lodging. The University of Padua has the Study Centre on the Alpine Environment which is located in San Vito di Cadore in the Dolomite Mountains in the Eastern Italian Alps near the town of San Vito.


The Study Centre on the Alpine Environment was developed in 1962 and has a meteorological station, bunk rooms, lecture hall, and laboratory rooms. The field station seemed to be equipped to house about 20 people.
 

This was the first time that I have seen a Velmex measuring stage in Europe (as most use the LINTAB system). They also had pictures of the Bristlecone pine trees on their walls which made me feel at home.
 

Along the stairwell, they had soil monoliths which are a soil profile cut out and preserved for study along with the requisite charismatic cross sections.
 
Roberto Menardi locking up the xiloteque collection in its protective glass case.

They have an antique xiloteque which is a library of books about tree identification where the actual books are made out of the tree species showing the radial, cross section, and transverse section of the wood, the bark, and the interior has leaves, seeds, and other parts of the plant for identification. These where created in the 19th century and consists of 56 species/books. Many where lost or destroyed in the intervening years, but these pieces where saved and are preserved in a glass case. They are truly amazing examples of craftsmanship as well as useful guides for tree identification.




They also had historical sketches of the root systems of a variety of local trees which were really well done and a great way to understand the below ground function of these trees.
 

The Trephor microcorer was developed at the University of Padua and the Study Centre on the Alpine Environment. This is a great tool that is used to take shallow small diameter plugs (15 mm in length and 2 mm in diameter) of wood for repeat sampling of phenology work that examines the weekly growth of cells throughout the season. This sampler is placed on the bark of the tree (which can be shaved down if the bark is particularly thick) and hammered into the tree.  Then the tool is pulled out of the tree and the core can be stored in a plastic ampule container with a solution to keep it moist and free of fungus.

References
Anfodillo, T., Carraro, V., Carrer, M., Fior, C., & Rossi, S. (2006). Convergent tapering of xylem conduits in different woody species. New Phytologist, 169(2), 279-290.
Anfodillo, T., Deslauriers, A., Menardi, R., Tedoldi, L., Petit, G., & Rossi, S. (2012). Widening of xylem conduits in a conifer tree depends on the longer time of cell expansion downwards along the stem. Journal of experimental botany, 63(2), 837-845.
Anfodillo, T., Di Bisceglie, D. P., & Urso, T. (2002). Minimum cuticular conductance and cuticle features of Picea abies and Pinus cembra needles along an altitudinal gradient in the Dolomites (NE Italian Alps). Tree physiology, 22(7), 479-487.
Anfodillo, T., Rento, S., Carraro, V., Furlanetto, L., Urbinati, C., & Carrer, M. (1998). Tree water relations and climatic variations at the alpine timberline: seasonal changes of sap flux and xylem water potential in Larix decidua Miller, Picea abies (L.) Karst. and Pinus cembra L. In Annales des sciences forestières (Vol. 55, No. 1-2, pp. 159-172). EDP Sciences.
Carrer, M., Anfodillo, T., Urbinati, C., & Carraro, V. (1998). High-altitude forest sensitivity to global warming: results from long-term and short-term analyses in the Eastern Italian Alps. In The impacts of climate variability on Forests (pp. 171-189). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Carrer, M., Nola, P., Eduard, J. L., Motta, R., & Urbinati, C. (2007). Regional variability of climate–growth relationships in Pinus cembra high elevation forests in the Alps. Journal of Ecology, 95(5), 1072-1083.
Carrer, M., Nola, P., Motta, R., & Urbinati, C. (2010). Contrasting treering growth to climate responses of Abies alba toward the southern limit of its distribution area. Oikos, 119(9), 1515-1525.
Carrer, M., & Urbinati, C. (2001). Spatial analysis of structural and treering related parameters in a timberline forest in the Italian Alps. Journal of Vegetation Science, 12(5), 643-652.
Carrer, M., & Urbinati, C. (2004). Age-dependent tree-ring growth responses to climate in Larix decidua and Pinus cembra. Ecology, 85(3), 730-740.
Carrer, M., & Urbinati, C. (2006). Longterm change in the sensitivity of treering growth to climate forcing in Larix decidua. New Phytologist, 170(4), 861-872.
Castagneri, D., Garbarino, M., Berretti, R., & Motta, R. (2010a). Site and stand effects on coarse woody debris in montane mixed forests of Eastern Italian Alps. Forest ecology and management, 260(9), 1592-1598.
Castagneri, D., Lingua, E., Vacchiano, G., Nola, P., & Motta, R. (2010b). Diachronic analysis of individual-tree mortality in a Norway spruce stand in the eastern Italian Alps. Annals of forest science, 67(3), 304.
Castagneri, D., Nola, P., Cherubini, P., & Motta, R. (2012). Temporal variability of size–growth relationships in a Norway spruce forest: the influences of stand structure, logging, and climate. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 42(3), 550-560.
Castagneri, D., Storaunet, K. O., & Rolstad, J. (2013). Age and growth patterns of old Norway spruce trees in Trillemarka forest, Norway. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 28(3), 232-240.
Castagneri, D., Vacchiano, G., Lingua, E., & Motta, R. (2008). Analysis of intraspecific competition in two subalpine Norway spruce (Picea abie (L.) Karst.) stands in Paneveggio (Trento, Italy). Forest Ecology and Management, 255(3), 651-659.
Lingua, E., Cherubini, P., Motta, R., & Nola, P. (2008). Spatial structure along an altitudinal gradient in the Italian central Alps suggests competition and facilitation among coniferous species. Journal of Vegetation Science, 19(3), 425-436.
Olson, M. E., Anfodillo, T., Rosell, J. A., Petit, G., Crivellaro, A., Isnard, S., ... & Castorena, M. (2014). Universal hydraulics of the flowering plants: vessel diameter scales with stem length across angiosperm lineages, habits and climates. Ecology letters.
Petit, G., & Anfodillo, T. (2009). Plant physiology in theory and practice: an analysis of the WBE model for vascular plants. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 259(1), 1-4.
Petit, G., Anfodillo, T., Carraro, V., Grani, F., & Carrer, M. (2011). Hydraulic constraints limit height growth in trees at high altitude. New Phytologist, 189(1), 241-252.
Petit, G., Anfodillo, T., & Mencuccini, M. (2008). Tapering of xylem conduits and hydraulic limitations in sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) trees. New Phytologist, 177(3), 653-664.
Petit, G., DeClerck, F. A., Carrer, M., & Anfodillo, T. (2014). Axial vessel widening in arborescent monocots. Tree physiology, tpt118.
Petit, G., Pfautsch, S., Anfodillo, T., & Adams, M. A. (2010). The challenge of tree height in Eucalyptus regnans: when xylem tapering overcomes hydraulic resistance. New Phytologist, 187(4), 1146-1153.
Rossi, S., Anfodillo, T., & Menardi, R. (2006). Trephor: a new tool for sampling microcores from tree stems. Iawa Journal, 27(1), 89.

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