Banj oak (Quercus leucotrichophora) is a representative and economically important species in the middle Himalayas. While banj oak forests are important to the Himalayan ecosystem, there has been little research examining whether they are physiologically adapting to a changing climate. This study looks at how ecophysiological traits in banj oak change under shifts in temperature and precipitation along an elevational and aspect gradient. Wood water content, wood density, and leaf thickness were measured across both gradients in a mixed-broad leafed forest in Kumaon, Uttarakhand, India.
Using linear regressions, we observed a relationship between aspect and elevation and the dependent variables leaf thickness and wood water content. There was also a relationship between aspect and wood density. These results suggest a large aspect affect, with banj oak having different levels of plasticity among Northern and Southern aspects. Moreover, the relationships between the variables indicate that there are thinner leaves, lower wood water content, and denser wood in sites with hotter and drier conditions. We conclude that in future hotter and drier conditions, banj oak will have lower water use efficiency and therefore may be less competitive in Himalayan forest ecosystems.