Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 8, 223–231, 2008

Special issue: Tree-ring reconstructions in natural hazards research

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 8, 223–231, 2008

  18 Mar 2008

18 Mar 2008

Response of Pinus sylvestris roots to sheet-erosion exposure: an anatomical approach

J. M. Rubiales1, J. M. Bodoque2, J. A. Ballesteros3, and A. Diez-Herrero3 J. M. Rubiales et al.
  • 1Departamento de Silvopascicultura, Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Montes, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
  • 2Departamento de Ingeniería Geológica y Minera, Facultad de Ciencias del Medio Ambiente, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Campus Fábrica de Armas, 45071 Toledo, Spain
  • 3Departamento de Investigación y Prospectiva Geocientífica, Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME), 28003 Madrid, Spain

Abstract. Anatomical changes of exposed tree roots are valuable tools to date erosion events, but the responses of diverse species under different types of erosion need still to be studied in detail. In this paper we analyze the histological changes that occur in roots of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) subjected to continuous denudation. A descriptive and quantitative study was conducted in the Senda Schmidt, a popular trail located on the northern slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama (Central Iberian System, Spain). Measurement of significant parameters allowed the moment of exposure of the roots to be identified. These parameters were: a) width of the growth ring; b) number of cells per ring; c) percentage of latewood and d) diameter of cellular light in earlywood. A one-way analysis ANOVA was also carried out in order to establish statistically significant differences between homogeneous groups of measurements in pre-exposed and exposed roots. Based on these analyses, Scots pine roots show a remarkable anatomical response to sheet-erosion exposure. Increased growth in the ring is accompanied by a slight reduction of the cell lumina of the earlywood tracheids. At the end of the ring, several rows of thick-walled tracheids define latewood tissue and visible annual borders very clearly. Furthermore, resin ducts often appear in tangential rows, increasing resin density in the tissue. All of these indicators made it possible to determine with precision the first year of exposure and to estimate precisely sheet erosion rates.