In this study we aimed to compare and explain the height growth performance of two contrasting pine species: lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex. Loud) and western white pine (Pinus monticola Dougl. ex D. Don.). We compiled measurements of total height growth at different ages and shoot elongation phenology realized in several provenance test trials for 109 provenances of lodgepole pine and 54 provenances of western white pine. The response of shoot elongation to temperature was assessed using a phenological model fitted on provenance mean growth curves. Although total height growth followed the same geographic trends in both species, the response of shoot elongation to temperature was different between the two, with few (lodgepole pine) or no differences among provenances (western white pine) from diverse geographic regions. The temperature for which potential cell growth rate is 50% was 10.8 ± 0.13 °C (mean ± standard error) for western white pine compared to 5.26 ± 0.075 °C for lodgepole pine. Phenology did not explain growth performance differences among geographical regions in both species, which instead were explained by differences in the number of internodes set the preceding summer; provenances originating from stressful environments produced the fewest internodes, possibly due to reallocation of carbohydrates to stress resistance.
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