Sala de Graus II. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Contact e-mail: 
t.rosas@creaf.uab.catLink to access the online session.

CREAF Talk with Arturo Pacheco - "Quantitative wood anatomy: a window into the intrannual dynamics of tree growth"

Friday, May 5, 202312 - 1 pm

TITLE: Quantitative wood anatomy: a window into the intrannual dynamics of tree growth

DATE: Friday, 5th May 2023.

TIME & FORMAT: form 12 to 1pm CET - In-person and online.

Seminars will combine in-person and online formats (CREAF, Sala Graus II, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) but in all cases, talks will be always streamed (not recorded), so they can be followed online.

HOW TO CONNECT: direct link to Arturo Pacheco's conference.


Quantitative wood anatomy (QWA) is a field of study that examines the variability of xylem anatomical features in plants, with the aim of understanding their functioning, growth, and responses to the environment. Key features analysed include lumen dimensions and wall thickness of conducting cells, fibers, and several ray properties.  QWA has the unique potential to offer valuable information about tree functioning and their responses to environmental changes at a high temporal resolution. It allows for the analysis of the anatomical traits of xylem and phloem cells in trees, which are closely linked to tree hydraulic conductivity, drought resistance, and mechanical support.

One of the main advantages of QWA is its ability to provide information within the growing season because each cell in the tree-rings is formed over a specific time frame and its anatomical traits may be dependent on the environmental constraints acting over this time frame. However, QWA requires special care to avoid systematic errors in the analyses, and the sample preparation techniques, microtomy, microscopy, and image analysis can be time-consuming. In this talk we will cover the principles of QWA, its potential to help us understand the climate and environmental responses of trees, the trait plasticity of its stem tissues over environmental gradients, and how it can improve climate and environmental reconstructions, which may improve interpretations with a more in-depth understanding of tree functioning. Finally, we will present the technical advancements developed to improve the field of QWA in terms of reduction of analytic time (ROXAS), and improvement of reproducibility and interpretations.


Arturo Pacheco is a dendroanatomist with a multi-disciplinary background whose main interest aims to understand the climatic cues driving xylem growth and how this natural archive is related with other natural proxies as a way to unravel past climate and future trends within the current climate change scenario. He holds degrees from the University of Bangor, United Kingdom (M.Sc. Sustainable Forestry) and University of Costa Rica (B.Sc. Agricultural Sciences).

My PhD research in Forest Ecology from the University of Padua (Italy) focused on the formation of intra annual density fluctuations of Mediterranean tree species under drought conditions. He also collaborates as a Postdoc at the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli (Italy) starting the Italian Tree Talker Network (ITT-Net) a state-of-the-art continuous large-scale monitoring of tree functional traits and vulnerabilities to climate change in pines and beech of southern Italy.

He has as well worked in other environments such as the alpine tree line and with artic shrubs from Greenland at the University of Aarhus (Denmark). Currently he is working at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in Columbia University (USA), with tropical trees from the Central Andes identifying promising new species that can be used for climate reconstruction and obtain a deeper knowledge on ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) variability in the past. He is also participating in the NSF project ‘Climate Research Education in the Americas using Tree-Ring Speleothem Examples’ (PIRECREATE), in which we engage young students from north and south America on climate research by teaching them the main tools and protocols used to study tree-rings.

At Lamont he is also involved in two different projects relying on new breakthroughs through the use of quantitative wood anatomy, one on studying the divergence phenomena of Alaskan trees and the other on the long term effects of hurricanes on the wood anatomy of oaks in the maritime forests of North Eastern United States.

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