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Forests 2018, 9(8), 489; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9080489

Sustainability of Forest Cover under Climate Change on the Temperate-Continental Xeric Limits

1
Institute of Environmental and Earth Sciences, University of Sopron, 9400 Sopron, Hungary
2
NAIK Forest Research Institute, 3232 Mátrafüred, Hungary
3
Institute of Geomatics and Civil Engineering, University of Sopron, 9400 Sopron, Hungary
4
NAIK Forest Research Institute, 9400 Sopron, Hungary
5
NAIK Forest Research Institute, 9600 Sárvár, Hungary
6
NAIK Forest Research Institute, 1027 Budapest, Hungary
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 27 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 10 August 2018
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Abstract

Climate change particularly threatens the xeric limits of temperate-continental forests. In Hungary, annual temperatures have increased by 1.2 °C–1.8 °C in the last 30 years and the frequency of extreme droughts has grown. With the aim to gain stand-level prospects of sustainability, we have used local forest site variables to identify and project effects of recent and expected changes of climate. We have used a climatic descriptor (FAI index) to compare trends estimated from forest datasets with climatological projections; this is likely for the first time such a comparison has been made. Four independent approaches confirmed the near-linear decline of growth and vitality with increasing hot droughts in summer, using sessile oak as model species. The correlation between droughts and the expansion of pest and disease damages was also found to be significant. Projections of expected changes of main site factors predict a dramatic rise of future drought frequency and, consequently, a substantial shift of forest climate classes, especially at low elevation. Excess water-dependent lowland forests may lose supply from groundwater, which may change vegetation cover and soil development processes. The overall change of site conditions not only causes economic losses, but also challenges long-term sustainability of forest cover at the xeric limits. View Full-Text
Keywords: trailing limits; site potential change; growth decline; drought stress; pests and diseases; mortality; adaptation; decision support system; adaptive forestry; sessile oak trailing limits; site potential change; growth decline; drought stress; pests and diseases; mortality; adaptation; decision support system; adaptive forestry; sessile oak
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Mátyás, C.; Berki, I.; Bidló, A.; Csóka, G.; Czimber, K.; Führer, E.; Gálos, B.; Gribovszki, Z.; Illés, G.; Hirka, A.; Somogyi, Z. Sustainability of Forest Cover under Climate Change on the Temperate-Continental Xeric Limits. Forests 2018, 9, 489.

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