In temperate regions, the analysis of climate signals encoded in the wood rings allows assessing tree sensitivity to climate and its potential effects on growth and yield. In Mediterranean regions, the cork oak (Quercus suber L.) has received limited attention for dendrochronological studies because tree rings are faint and cork rings with a clear annual banding have been rather neglected. We analyzed the climatic signal of cork-ring chronologies for AD 1996–2010 from distinct regions in western Algeria [a mountain oak forest called Hafir-Zarieffet] and in southern Portugal [a peneplain wood-pasture called Benavente]. The goal was to evaluate the strength and consistency of climate signal and to assess cork growth sensitivity to climate variables (precipitation and temperature). Our results suggest that cork growth encodes a climatic signal. Trends of cork growth, via correlation analysis, including climate variables (on a monthly and seasonal basis) and Lang's index (on an annual basis) were successfully assessed. Drought-driven cork growth reduction is a threshold function of a P-T ratio, and with expected increase in the drought occurrence under changing climate, cork growth is likely to be similarly affected in both regions.
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Vol. 74 • No. 1