Richard L. Peters

Richard L. Peters
University of Basel | UNIBAS · Department of Environmental Sciences

PhD

About

40
Publications
17,554
Reads
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746
Citations
Introduction
The 2018 summer drought illustrates that European forests are exposed to increasingly drier and warmer climatic conditions. There is thus a recognizable need for better understanding how different tree species will cope with present and future drying and warming, as these forests are providing essential ecosystem services to society. My main research interest is to unravel the interplay between forests and the Earth’s climate system. I moved from statistical analyses of annual tree-growth patterns in relation to climate, from tropical to temperate forests, to a mechanistic approach of explaining wood formation on finer time scales. This shift convinced me that we need to acquire more insight into physiological mechanisms driving tree hydraulics and growth.
Additional affiliations
July 2018 - March 2019
Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • BACI - Detecting changes in essential ecosystem and biodiversity properties – towards a Biosphere Atmosphere Change Index
September 2016 - September 2017
Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)
Position
  • Assistant in the Dendroecological Field Week
Description
  • International PhD and MSc Students; Activity: Supervising a group during one week on sampling tree cores and performing dendroclimatological research
March 2012 - May 2014
Wageningen University & Research
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • TROFOCLIM - Tropical forests and climate change: understanding links to predict future responses. Project: Long-term trends in tropical tree growth: a pantropical study
Education
June 2014 - May 2018
Basel University
Field of study
  • Environmental Sciences
September 2009 - October 2011
Utrecht University
Field of study
  • Environmental Science
September 2006 - August 2009
Utrecht University
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (40)
Article
Sapwood characteristics, such as sapwood area as well as thermal and hydraulic conductivity, are linked to species-specific hydraulic function and resource allocation to water transport tissues (xylem). These characteristics are often unknown and thus a major source of uncertainty in sap flow data processing and transpiration estimates because bulk...
Article
Full-text available
Ecological research, just as all Earth System Sciences, is becoming increasingly data-rich. Tools for processing of “big data” are continuously developed to meet corresponding technical and logistical challenges. However, even at smaller scales, data sets may be challenging when best practices in data exploration, quality control and reproducibilit...
Article
Full-text available
Radial stem growth dynamics at seasonal resolution are essential to understand how forests respond to climate change. We studied daily radial growth of 160 individuals of seven temperate tree species at 47 sites across Switzerland over 8 years. Growth of all species peaked in the early part of the growth season and commenced shortly before the summ...
Article
Tree-ring annual growth and wood anatomical traits were used for the retrospective analysis of the impact of hydro-climatic conditions on the orchard irrigation management. Data were collected in the oldest (20 years), in full-production, orchards of Emilia-Romagna (Italy), one of the most important Italian Region for fruit production. Despite the...
Article
Full-text available
Human-driven peatland drainage has occurred in Europe for centuries, causing habitat degradation and leading to the emission of greenhouse gases. As such, in the last decades, there has been an increase in policies aiming at restoring these habitats through rewetting. Alder ( Alnus glutinosa L.) is a widespread species in temperate forest peatlands...
Article
Full-text available
Heatwaves exert disproportionately strong and sometimes irreversible impacts on forest ecosystems. These impacts remain poorly understood at the tree and species level and across large spatial scales. Here, we investigate the effects of the record-breaking 2018 European heatwave on tree growth and tree water status using a collection of high-tempor...
Article
Full-text available
The recent developments in artificial intelligence have the potential to facilitate new research methods in ecology. Especially Deep Convolutional Neural Networks (DCNNs) have been shown to outperform other approaches in automatic image analyses. Here we apply a DCNN to facilitate quantitative wood anatomical (QWA) analyses, where the main challeng...
Article
Full-text available
The TreeNet research and monitoring network has been continuously collecting data from point dendrometers and air and soil microclimate using an automated system since 2011. The goal of TreeNet is to generate high temporal resolution datasets of tree growth and tree water dynamics for research and to provide near real-time indicators of forest grow...
Article
Full-text available
Plant transpiration links physiological responses of vegetation to water supply and demand with hydrological, energy, and carbon budgets at the land–atmosphere interface. However, despite being the main land evaporative flux at the global scale, transpiration and its response to environmental drivers are currently not well constrained by observatio...
Article
Full-text available
Radial stem size changes, measured with automated dendrometers at intra-daily resolution, offer great potential to link environmental conditions with tree physiology at the seasonal scale. Such measurements need to be time-aligned, cleaned of outliers and shifts, gap-filled and analysed for reversible (water-related) and irreversible (growth-relate...
Article
Full-text available
The timing of diel stem growth of mature forest trees is still largely unknown, as empirical data with high temporal resolution have not been available so far. Consequently, the effects of day‐night conditions on tree growth remained uncertain. Here we present the first comprehensive field study of hourly‐resolved radial stem growth of seven temper...
Article
In their Letter, Elmendorf and Ettinger (1) question the dominant role of photoperiod in driving secondary growth resumption (hereafter referred to as xylem formation onset) of the Northern Hemisphere conifers, recently reported by Huang et al. (2). Their opinions are grounded on the following three aspects, including 1) the seasonality of the phot...
Article
Vegetation models are converging on an intermediate complexity with the tree level as the target for simulation. Field and laboratory observations of forest ecosystem processes are indispensable to parameterize, evaluate, or be assimilated into tree-centered vegetation models. Observations of C allocation in trees are not being developed at the sam...
Article
A key ecophysiological measurement is the flow of water (or sap) along the tree's water‐transport system, which is an essential process for maintaining the hydraulic connection within the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum. The thermal dissipation method (TDM) is widespread in the scientific community for measuring sap flow and has provided novel insi...
Article
A valid representation of intra‐annual wood‐formation processes in global vegetation models is vital for assessing climate change impacts on the forest carbon stock. Yet, wood formation is generally modelled with photosynthesis, despite mounting evidence that cambial activity is rather directly constrained by limiting environmental factors. Here, w...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Forest trees can live for hundreds to thousands of years, and they play a critical role in mitigating global warming by fixing approximately 15% of anthropogenic CO 2 emissions annually by wood formation. However, the environmental factors triggering wood formation onset in springtime and the cellular mechanisms underlying this onset r...
Article
Full-text available
Insect defoliation impacts forest productivity worldwide, highlighting the relevance of plant-insect interactions. The larch budmoth (Zeiraphera griseana Hübner) is one of the most extensively studied defoliators, where numerous tree-ring based analyses on its host (Larix decidua Mill.) have aided in identifying outbreak dynamics over the past mill...
Article
Full-text available
Tree growth is an indicator of tree vitality and its temporal variability is linked to species resilience to environmental changes. Second‐order statistics that quantify the cross‐scale temporal variability of ecophysiological time series (statistical memory) could provide novel insights into species resilience. Species with high statistical memory...
Article
Full-text available
During the growing season, trees allocate photoassimilates to increase their aboveground woody biomass in the stem (ABIstem). This "carbon allocation" to structural growth is a dynamic process influenced by internal and external (e.g., climatic) drivers. While radial variability in wood formation and its resulting structure have been intensely stud...
Article
Efforts to develop mechanistic tree growth models are hindered by the uncertainty on whether and when tree growth responses to environmental factors are driven by carbon assimilation or by biophysical limitations of wood formation. In this study, we use multiannual weekly wood‐formation monitoring of two conifer species (Larix decidua and Picea abi...
Article
We used four years of sap flow measurements to elucidate intra‐ and inter‐specific variability of gs in Larix decidua Mill. and Picea abies (L.) Karst along an elevational gradient and contrasting soil moisture conditions. Site‐ and species‐specific gs response to main environmental drivers were examined, including vapour pressure deficit, air temp...
Article
Conifer trees possess a typical anatomical tree‐ring structure characterized by a transition from large and thin‐walled earlywood tracheids to narrow and thick‐walled latewood tracheids. However, little is known on how this characteristic structure is maintained across contrasting environmental conditions, due to its crucial role to ensure sap asce...
Presentation
Dated tree rings are used to understand tree-growth responses to climatic variability and reconstruct past climate conditions. In parallel, mechanistic models make use of experimentally derived plant-atmosphere interactions to simulate past and future environmental impact on forest productivity. Yet, substantial model inconsistencies and mismatches...
Article
Trees play a key role in the global hydrological cycle and measurements performed with the thermal dissipation method (TDM) have been crucial in providing whole‐tree water‐use estimates. Yet, different data processing to calculate whole‐tree water use encapsulates uncertainties that have not been systematically assessed. We quantified uncertainties...
Thesis
Full-text available
Conifers show a biogeographical distribution across a wide range of contrasting environmental conditions, stretching from the Arctic Circle to the equator and Southern Hemisphere. In mountainous ecosystems, conifers can dominate at high elevations with low temperatures severely limiting tree growth and survival. Conifers growing at sites with tempe...
Article
Full-text available
Trees scale leaf (AL) and xylem (AX) areas to couple leaf transpiration and carbon gain with xylem water transport. Some species are known to acclimate in AL : AX balance in response to climate conditions, but whether trees of different species acclimate in AL : AX in similar ways over their entire (continental) distributions is unknown. We analyze...
Article
Mechanistic understanding of tree-ring formation and its modelling requires a cellular-based and spatially organized characterization of a tree ring, moving from whole rings, to intra-annual growth zones and individual cells. A tracheidogram is a radial profile of conifer anatomical features, such as lumen area and cell wall thickness, of sequentia...
Article
Forest growth and biomass response to environmental change depends upon climatic, but also upon interactions with biotic drivers, such as insect outbreak activity. In this study we use tree-rings along a temperature gradient to assess the relative importance of climate versus altered larch budmoth (Zeiraphera diniana) outbreak cycles for forest bio...
Presentation
Inter-annual tree-ring measurements are used to understand tree-growth responses to climatic variability and reconstruct past climate conditions. In parallel, mechanistic models use experimentally defined plant-atmosphere interactions to explain past growth responses and predict future environmental impact on forest productivity. Yet, substantial i...
Chapter
The Carpathian mountain region is one of the most significant natural refuges on the European continent. It is home to Europe’s most extensive tracts of montane forest, the largest remaining virgin forest and natural mountain beech-fir forest ecosystems. Adding to the biodiversity are semi-natural habitats such as hay meadows, which are the result...
Article
Full-text available
Phloem osmolality and its components are involved in basic cell metabolism, cell growth, and in various physiological processes including the ability of living cells to withstand drought and frost. Osmolality and sugar composition responses to environmental stresses have been extensively studied for leaves, but less for the secondary phloem of plan...
Article
Tree-ring analysis is often used to assess long-term trends in tree growth. A variety of growth-trend detection methods (GDMs) exist to disentangle age/size trends in growth from long-term growth changes. However, these detrending methods strongly differ in approach, with possible implications for their output. Here we critically evaluate the consi...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
At the beginning of this century, numerous pines in the Rhone Valley, one of the driest inner alpine valleys of the European Alps, situated between Brig and Sion (Canton Valais), started showing symptoms of drought; several older trees having already died. With a view to uncovering the causes of these pines dying, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) launched a long-term irrigation experiment in summer 2003 in the Nature Park of Pfyn-Finges. Since then, the WSL has been comparing the growth of several hundred pines in irrigated forest plots with trees that only receive the natural amount of precipitation. More infos can be found at https://www.wsl.ch/en/about-wsl/instrumented-field-sites-and-laboratories/experimental-sites-in-forests/pfynwald.html