Some trees from tropical areas lack visually detectable and consistent annual growth rings. As such, we have measured the radial variation of cellulose oxygen isotopes in trees that grow in seasonally dry forests of Northern Laos to explore the possibility if this method can be used for the identification of annual rings. One disk from a 7-year-old Styrax tonkinensis (S. tonkinensis) in plantation and two cores from two Ficus semicordata var. semicordata (F. semicordata) in forests were examined. High-resolution cellulose oxygen isotopes of S. tonkinensis and F. semicordata show clear cycles with amplitudes of 5‰ and 9‰, respectively. To further test if the oxygen isotope cycles that we observed are annual or not, a tree ring cellulose oxygen isotope model is employed. Input data of the model are relative humidity and modeled precipitation δ18O. The modeling results independently support our detection of oxygen isotope annual cycles. Therefore, we conclude that tree ring cellulose oxygen isotopes have great potential to identify annual rings in tropical trees, which typically lack distinct annual rings in the context of seasonal climate.
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