Climate/growth relationships of Brachystegia spiciformis from the miombo woodland in south central Africa

Valérie Trouet, Jan Esper, Hans Beeckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


We present five . Brachystegia spiciformis Benth. (BrSp) tree-ring chronologies from the seasonally dry miombo woodland in south central Africa. Between 9 and 34 stem discs were collected from three dry and two wet miombo sites. All samples showed distinct growth rings, which were marked by terminal parenchyma bands. Site chronologies varied in length between 43 and 149 years. An increase in the number of growth ring anomalies in older trees, however, resulted in an increase in dating error and a decrease in between-tree correlations with increase in the chronology length. Annual precipitation variability accounted for some 28% of the common variance in the BrSp chronologies and we found no difference in climate sensitivity between wet and dry miombo sites. The influence of climate, and of precipitation in particular, on tree growth was strongest at the core of the rainy season (December-February). This is also the time of the year when ENSO peaks in amplitude and ENSO effects on precipitation variability in southern Africa are the strongest. We found a negative response of tree growth to ENSO throughout most of the growth year, suggesting that the development of longer chronologies from the miombo region would allow for the investigation of temporal ENSO variability. A spatial extension of the miombo tree-ring network should therefore focus on regions where ENSO effects are the strongest (e.g., southeastern Africa).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Brachystegia spiciformis
  • ENSO
  • Miombo
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Tree rings
  • Tropical dendrochronology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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