Linking Dendrometry and Dendrochronology in the Dominant Azorean Tree Laurus azorica (Seub.) Franco
As in many archipelagos, the Azorean primary forest was largely cleared and replaced by secondary forest and grassland, the Azorean tree Laurus azorica (Seub.) Franco being one of the dominant trees in the remaining natural forests. Dendrochronological and dendrometric studies in the Azores mainly focused on non-indigenous trees, either used for timber (e.g., Cryptomeria japonica D. Don) or considered as invasive (Pittosporum undulatum Vent.). Therefore, this study aims to describe the growth
... scribe the growth ring anatomy of L. azorica, and to understand the relationship between dendrometric traits (e.g., trunk diameter at breast height; tree height), and the number of growth rings. Growth ring anatomy was accessed by wood anatomical preparation of microcore samples while tree age estimation was based on growth ring counts in wood cores taken at breast height and at base. A total of 145 trees were sampled, resulting in 262 increment cores, at six representative stands of laurel forest in São Miguel Island (Azores). The wood anatomical analysis confirmed the presence of clear annual ring boundaries, and a high structural similarity towards Laurus novocanariensis Rivas Mart., Lousã, Fern.Prieto, E.Días, J.C.Costa & C.Aguiar. Age at tree base averaged 33 years, with 60% of the trees between 25 and 50 years old, and only about 15% above 50 years old. This suggests the existence of a secondary forest that is more recent than expected, probably due to human disturbance. The allometric models showed best fit when calculated by stand, suggesting the effect of local environmental conditions on growth rate. Radial growth rate was estimated at 0.68 cm.year−1. Given the known dominance of this species and the threats affecting natural forests, this baseline study will allow a better understanding of forest distribution and dynamics, and support a more effective forest management approach.