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    Population variation in ecophysiological traits of four co-occurring montane conifers was measured on a large latitudinal gradient to quantitatively assess their potential for response to environmental change. White fir (Abies concolor) had the highest variability, gross photosynthetic rate (Pg), and foliar carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) content. Despite low water use efficiency (WUE), stomatal conductance (gs) of fir was the most responsive to unfavorable environmental conditions. Pinus lambertiana exhibited the least variability in Pg and WUE, and is likely to be the most vulnerable to environmental changes. Pinus ponderosa had an intermediate level of variability, and high needle growth at its higher elevational limits. Pinus jeffreyi also had intermediate variability, but high needle growth at its southern latitudinal and lower elevational limits. The attributes used to assess tree vigor were effective in predicting population vulnerability to abiotic (drought) and biotic (herbivore) stresses.

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    Grulke, NE 2010 Plasticity in physiological traits in conifers: implications for response to climate change in the western U.S. Environmental Pollution 158:2032-2042.


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    Phenotypic plasticity, Gross photosynthesis, Water use efficiency, Pine needle scale, Jeffrey pine beetle

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