iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Climate impacts on tree growth in a Neotropical high mountain forest of the Peruvian Andes

Clara Rodríguez-Morata (1)   , Jaime Madrigal-González (1), Markus Stoffel (1-2-3), Juan Antonio Ballesteros-Cánovas (1-2)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 13, Issue 3, Pages 194-201 (2020)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3124-013
Published: May 19, 2020 - Copyright © 2020 SISEF

Research Articles

Global warming can jeopardize important ecosystem functions and services in sensitive Neotropical mountain areas. However, untangling the relative roles of natural climate variability pattern from current global warming trends still represent a major challenge. Here, we propose a novel analytical approach based on Structural Equation Models to evaluate the relative roles of different sources of climate variability on tree growth. Specifically, we investigate direct and indirect linkages between Basal Area Increments (BAI) and a set of different climatic sources of variability, such as: (i) large-scale atmospheric oscillation patterns (i.e., the El Niño Southern Oscillation, ENSO and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, PDO); and (ii) local meteorology in terms of temperature and precipitation. Additionally, we included in the SEM framework other important variables such as: (iii) calendar year (representative of temporal linear trends); and (iv) tree size (representative of main biological trends). Results indicate that the ENSO and PDO modulate minimum temperatures (Tmin) in the study area. These indices describe the oscillating behavior of the climatic modes (i.e., South Oscillation Index and PDO index) and are negatively correlated with Tmin. As such, they also influence tree growth (represented here by BAI) indirectly. Furthermore, through its direct impact on Tmin increase, ongoing climate warming has an indirect negative effect on BAI, thereby implying that the ongoing temperature rise could exert control on productivity in high mountain forests of the Andes, and that this influence could become more important with continued temperature increase.


Global Warming, Tree Growth Variability, Podocarpus glomeratus Don., Andean Forest, Peru, Structural Equation Model (SEM)

Authors’ address

Clara Rodríguez-Morata 0000-0002-7397-1794
Jaime Madrigal-González 0000-0002-9522-5493
Markus Stoffel 0000-0003-0816-1303
Juan Antonio Ballesteros-Cánovas 0000-0003-4439-397X
Climate Change Impacts and Risks in the Anthropocene (C-CIA), Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Boulevard Carl-Vogt 66, CH-1205 Geneva (Switzerland)
Markus Stoffel 0000-0003-0816-1303
Juan Antonio Ballesteros-Cánovas 0000-0003-4439-397X
Dendrolab.ch, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Geneva, Rue des Maraîchers 13, CH-1205 Geneva (Switzerland)
Markus Stoffel 0000-0003-0816-1303
Department F.-A. Forel for Aquatic and Environmental Research, University of Geneva, Boulevard Carl-Vogt 66, CH-1205 Geneva (Switzerland)

Corresponding author

Clara Rodríguez-Morata


Rodríguez-Morata C, Madrigal-González J, Stoffel M, Ballesteros-Cánovas JA (2020). Climate impacts on tree growth in a Neotropical high mountain forest of the Peruvian Andes. iForest 13: 194-201. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3124-013

Academic Editor

Emanuele Lingua

Paper history

Received: Apr 11, 2019
Accepted: Mar 22, 2020

First online: May 19, 2020
Publication Date: Jun 30, 2020
Publication Time: 1.93 months

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