Tree species growth response to climate in mixtures of Quercus robur/Quercus petraea and Pinus sylvestris across Europe - a dynamic, sensitive equilibrium

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Vospernik, Sonja
Heym, Michael
Pretzsch, Hans
Pach, Maciej
Steckel, Mathias
Aldea, Jorge
Brazaitis, Gediminas
Bravo-Oviedo, Andrés
Del Rio, Miren
Löf, Magnus
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cc-by (c) Vospernik et al., 2023
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Quercus robur/Quercus petraea and Pinus sylvestris are widely distributed and economically important tree species in Europe co-occurring on mesotrophic, xeric and mesic sites. Increasing dry conditions may reduce their growth, but growth reductions may be modified by mixture, competition and site conditions. The annual diameter growth in monospecific and mixed stands along an ecological gradient with mean annual temperatures ranging from 5.5 °C to 11.5 °C was investigated in this study. On 36 triplets (108 plots), trees were cored and the year-ring series were cross-dated, resulting in year-ring series of 785 and 804 trees for Q. spp. and P. sylvestris, respectively. A generalized additive model with a logarithmic link was fit to the data with random effects for the intercept at the triplet, year and tree level and a random slope for the covariate age for each tree; the Tweedie-distribution was used. The final model explained 87 % of the total variation in diameter increment for both tree species. Significant covariates were age, climate variables (long-term mean, monthly), local competition variables, relative dbh, mixture, stand structure and interactions thereof. Tree growth declined with age and local density and increased with social position. It was positively influenced by mixture and structural diversity (Gini coefficient); mixture effects were significant for P. sylvestris only. The influence of potential evapotranspiration (PET) in spring and autumn on tree growth was positive and non-linear, whereas tree growth sharply decreased with increasing PET in June, which proved to be the most influential month on tree growth along the whole ecological gradient. Interactions of PET with tree social position (relative dbh) were significant in July and September for Q. spp. and in April for P. sylvestris. Interactions of climate with density or mixture were not significant. Climatic effects found agree well with previous results from intra-annual growth studies and indicate that the model captures the causal factors for tree growth well. Furthermore, the interaction between climate and relative dbh might indicate a longer growth duration for trees of higher social classes. Analysis of random effects across time and space showed highly dynamic patterns, with competitive advantages changing annually between species and spatial patterns showing no large-scale trends but pointing to the prevalence of local site factors. In mixed-species stands, the tree species have the same competitivity in the long-term, which is modified by climate each year. Climate warming will shift the competitive advantages, but the direction will be highly site-specific.
Journal or Serie
Forest Ecology and Management, 2023, vol. 530, núm. 120753, p. 1-15