Foster, T.E., and J. R. Brooks, 2001. Long-term trends in growth of Pinus palustris and Pinus elliottii along a hydrological gradient in central Florida. Can. J. Forest Res. 31:1661-1670. WED-00-111
Forest species composition in Florida is sensitive to changes in hydrology that accompany small shifts in elevation. In this study, we use dendrochronological techniques to determine how the growth of Pinus elliottii var. elliottii Engelm. (slash pine) and Pinus palustris Mill. (longleaf pine) along a hydrologic gradient from mesic flatwoods to xeric sandhills responds to fluctuations in climate (temperature, precipitation, river flow, and Palmer drought severity index). Interspecies and intraspecies comparisons of growth responses were made between a xeric P. palustris plot, a transition zone plot containing both species, and a mesic P. elliottii plot. Growth of P elliottii individuals was negatively correlated with increased water availability on sites with a shallow water table (<1 m) but positively correlated on sites with a deeper water table. The basal area increment (BAI) of P. elliottii individuals on the drier site was 41% lower than the BAI of individuals on the wetter site. In contrast, the growth response of P. palustris, which only grows in the dryer sites, was similar along the hydrologic gradient, with growth being positively related to water availability and only a 16% lower BAI on the driest site.