A lonely dot on the map: Exploring the climate signal in tree-ring density and stable isotopes of clanwilliam cedar, South Africa

Tom De Mil, Matthew Meko, Soumaya Belmecheri, Edmund February, Matthew Therrell, Jan Van den Bulcke, Valerie Trouet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Clanwilliam cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis; WICE), a long-lived conifer with distinct tree rings in Cape Province, South Africa, has potential to provide a unique high-resolution climate proxy for southern Africa. However, the climate signal in WICE tree-ring width (TRW) is weak and the dendroclimatic potential of other WICE tree-ring parameters therefore needs to be explored. Here, we investigate the climatic signal in various tree-ring parameters, including TRW, Minimum Density (MND), Maximum Latewood Density (MXD), Maximum Latewood Blue Intensity (MXBI), and stable carbon and oxygen isotopes (δ18O and δ13C) measured in WICE samples collected in 1978. MND was negatively influenced by early spring (October-November) precipitation whereas TRW was positively influenced by spring November-December precipitation. MXD was negatively influenced by autumn (April-May) temperature whereas MXBI was not influenced by temperature. Both MXD and MXBI were negatively influenced by January-March and January-May precipitation respectively. We did not find a significant climate signal in either of the stable isotope time series, which were measured on a limited number of samples. WICE can live to be at least 356 years old and the current TRW chronology extends back to 1564 CE. The development of full-length chronologies of alternative tree-ring parameters, particularly MND, would allow for an annually resolved, multi-century spring precipitation reconstruction for this region in southern Africa, where vulnerability to future climate change is high.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125879
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Maximum latewood blue intensity (MXBI)
  • Maximum latewood density (MXD)
  • Minimum density (MND)
  • South Africa
  • Stable isotopes
  • Widdringtonia cedarbergensis
  • X-ray Computed micro tomography (X-ray CT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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