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A recent growth increase of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) at its Mediterranean distribution limit contradicts drought stress

Tegel, Willy; Seim, Andrea; Hakelberg, Dietrich; Hoffmann, Stephan; Panev, Metodi; Westphal, Thorsten and Büntgen, Ulf (2014) In European Journal of Forest Research 133(1). p.61-71
Abstract
Future changes in tree growth, associated with a warmer and drier climate, are predicted for many species and locations across the European Mediterranean Basin. However, quantification of the intensity and severity of related consequences for forest ecosystem functioning and productivity remains challenging. Species-specific distribution limits that are particularly sensitive to small changes in the ambient climate may provide an ideal test bed to assess the nature of past growth trends and extremes and their responsible controls. Here, we seek to understand how twentieth century climate change affected the growth of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) nearby its south-eastern distribution limit in Albania and Macedonia on the Balkan... (More)
Future changes in tree growth, associated with a warmer and drier climate, are predicted for many species and locations across the European Mediterranean Basin. However, quantification of the intensity and severity of related consequences for forest ecosystem functioning and productivity remains challenging. Species-specific distribution limits that are particularly sensitive to small changes in the ambient climate may provide an ideal test bed to assess the nature of past growth trends and extremes and their responsible controls. Here, we seek to understand how twentieth century climate change affected the growth of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) nearby its south-eastern distribution limit in Albania and Macedonia on the Balkan Peninsula. We sampled 93 living trees from undisturbed mixed forest stands at ~1,450 m a.s.l. and 29 timbers from nearby historical buildings. Application of different tree-ring detrending techniques allowed robust composite chronologies with varying degrees of high- to low-frequency variability to be developed back to 1648 ad. Comparison with local meteorological station measurements and continental grid-box climate indices revealed spatiotemporal instability in growth–climate response patterns. Nevertheless, year-to-year and decadal-long fluctuations in radial beech growth were significantly (P < 0.001) negatively correlated at ?0.61 with June–September temperature over the 1951–1995 period. This (inverse) relationship between increased beech growth and decreased summer temperature is somewhat indicative for the importance of plant-available soil moisture, which likely controls ring width formation near the species-specific south-eastern distribution limit. Significant positive correlations between beech growth and drought (scPDSI; r = 0.57) confirm metabolistic drought constraints. However, an unexpected late twentieth century growth increase not only contradicts the previously observed growth dependency to summer soil moisture, but also denies any putative drought-induced forest ecosystem suppression in this part of the Mediterranean Basin. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Albania, Balkan Peninsula, Dendroclimatology, Fagus sylvatica L., Macedonia, Tree-ring width
in
European Journal of Forest Research
volume
133
issue
1
pages
61 - 71
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:84891641253
ISSN
1612-4669
DOI
10.1007/s10342-013-0737-7
project
MERGE
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
3e4b5d2e-54bc-4357-a17d-20baf68d2b6c (old id 7515404)
date added to LUP
2015-07-08 14:51:21
date last changed
2017-11-19 03:24:18
@article{3e4b5d2e-54bc-4357-a17d-20baf68d2b6c,
  abstract     = {Future changes in tree growth, associated with a warmer and drier climate, are predicted for many species and locations across the European Mediterranean Basin. However, quantification of the intensity and severity of related consequences for forest ecosystem functioning and productivity remains challenging. Species-specific distribution limits that are particularly sensitive to small changes in the ambient climate may provide an ideal test bed to assess the nature of past growth trends and extremes and their responsible controls. Here, we seek to understand how twentieth century climate change affected the growth of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) nearby its south-eastern distribution limit in Albania and Macedonia on the Balkan Peninsula. We sampled 93 living trees from undisturbed mixed forest stands at ~1,450 m a.s.l. and 29 timbers from nearby historical buildings. Application of different tree-ring detrending techniques allowed robust composite chronologies with varying degrees of high- to low-frequency variability to be developed back to 1648 ad. Comparison with local meteorological station measurements and continental grid-box climate indices revealed spatiotemporal instability in growth–climate response patterns. Nevertheless, year-to-year and decadal-long fluctuations in radial beech growth were significantly (P &lt; 0.001) negatively correlated at ?0.61 with June–September temperature over the 1951–1995 period. This (inverse) relationship between increased beech growth and decreased summer temperature is somewhat indicative for the importance of plant-available soil moisture, which likely controls ring width formation near the species-specific south-eastern distribution limit. Significant positive correlations between beech growth and drought (scPDSI; r = 0.57) confirm metabolistic drought constraints. However, an unexpected late twentieth century growth increase not only contradicts the previously observed growth dependency to summer soil moisture, but also denies any putative drought-induced forest ecosystem suppression in this part of the Mediterranean Basin.},
  author       = {Tegel, Willy and Seim, Andrea and Hakelberg, Dietrich and Hoffmann, Stephan and Panev, Metodi and Westphal, Thorsten and Büntgen, Ulf},
  issn         = {1612-4669},
  keyword      = {Albania,Balkan Peninsula,Dendroclimatology,Fagus sylvatica L.,Macedonia,Tree-ring width},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {61--71},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {European Journal of Forest Research},
  title        = {A recent growth increase of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) at its Mediterranean distribution limit contradicts drought stress},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10342-013-0737-7},
  volume       = {133},
  year         = {2014},
}