Quantifying terminal white bands in Salix from the Yenisei river, Siberia and their relationship to late-season flooding

Richard D. Thaxton, Irina P. Panyushkina, David M. Meko, Georg von Arx, Leonid I. Agafonov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Key Message: Wood fiber cell wall thickness best characterizes white bands found at the end of certain growth rings in Salix alba. Evidence suggests these features are related to late-season hydrology. Abstract: Recent, record-breaking discharge in the Yenisei River, Siberia, is part of a larger trend of increasing river flow in the Arctic driven by Arctic Amplification. These changes in magnitude and timing of discharge can lead to increased risk of extreme flood events, with implications for infrastructure, ecosystems, and climate. To better understand the effect of these changes on riparian tree growth along the lower reaches of the Yenisei River, we collected white willow (Salix alba) cross sections from a fluvial fill flat terrace that occasionally floods when water levels are extremely high. These samples displayed bands of lighter colored wood at the end of certain annual growth rings that we hypothesized were related to flood events. To identify the characteristics and causes of these features, we use an approach known as quantitative wood anatomy (QWA) to measure variation in fiber cell dimensions across tree rings, particularly fiber lumen area (LA) and cell wall thickness (CWT). We investigate (1) which cell parameters and method to extract intra-annual data from annual tree rings best capture terminal white bands identified in Salix, and (2) if these patterns are related to flood magnitude and/or duration. We find that fiber CWT best captures terminal white bands found in Salix rings. Time series derived from CWT measurements correlate with July water-level durations, but at levels too low to be labeled flooding. Although both terminal white bands and July flooding have reduced since 1980, questions remain as to the cause of terminal white bands. Understanding how riparian vegetation responds to changes in hydrology can help us better manage riparian ecosystems and understand the impacts of a changing Arctic hydrological regime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-836
Number of pages16
JournalTrees - Structure and Function
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Hydrology
  • Intra-annual density fluctuation
  • Quantitative wood anatomy
  • Riparian vegetation
  • Wood fibers
  • Yenisei River Basin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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