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Group Dendrosciences


The primary interest of the research group Dendrosciences is to gain an understanding of the influence of environmental stresses on the anatomical structure and tree physiological processes with focus on intra- and inter-annual cambial activity, and therefore ring-formation. The group strives to study the key processes behind tree growth – many of which are still not quantified or even understood. The group aims to develop novel methodologies, in natural as well as controlled experimental conditions, to explore the response of cambium to stress in all of its phenological and functional traits (structural, physiological, biochemical, molecular). Experiments with stressors such as drought or pollutants are used to disentangle the various growth influences arising from natural and anthropogenic environmental change.

The Dendrosciences Group i) quantifies the impacts of environmental change on tree growth and ii) reconstructs climate variations over the past centuries to millennia, using ring width, maximum latewood density, and other novel parameters such as isotopes, and iii) improves methodologies relevant to tree-ring and global change research. The group is well-positioned to address the societally, politically, and scientifically relevant questions centred around the earth’s climate variability during the modern anthropogenically impacted system (via e.g., greenhouse gases, land-use changes) in relation to more naturally (e.g., solar, volcanic, atmosphere-ocean dynamics) forced variability. The group explores statistical and analytical techniques to provide metric understanding of past climate variability, supportive for validating regional and global climate models. Activities take place across a wide variety of spatial and temporal scales, including detailed daily-weekly analysis of the impacts of temperature on tree growth along an altitudinal gradient to hemispheric-scale reconstructions of climate over the past millennia. Field investigations are performed within Switzerland, across Europe, and at other locations across the globe ranging from Greenland to Patagonia.


Gärtner H, Cherubini P, Fonti P, von Arx G, Schneider L, Nievergelt D, Verstege A, Bast A, Schweingruber FH, Büntgen U (2015): Technical challenges in tree-ring research including wood anatomy and dendroecology. Journal of Visualized Experiments. e52337, doi:10.3791/52337 (pdf)

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Interim Group leader

 Dr. Paolo Cherubini