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Open AccessArticle

Growth and Tree Water Deficit of Mixed Norway Spruce and European Beech at Different Heights in a Tree and under Heavy Drought

1
Chair for Forest Growth and Yield Science, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Technical University of Munich, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 2, 85354 Freising, Germany
2
Department Soil and Climate, Bavarian State Institute of Forestry (LWF), Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 1, 85354 Freising, Germany
3
Chair for Ecophysiology of Plants, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Technical University of Munich, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 2, 85354 Freising, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(7), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10070577
Received: 11 May 2019 / Revised: 27 June 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 11 July 2019
Although several studies suggest that tree species in mixed stands resist drought events better than in pure stands, little is known about the impact on growth and the tree water deficit (TWD) in different tree heights at heavy drought. With dendrometer data at the upper and lower stem and coarse roots, we calculated the TWD and growth (ZGmax) (referring to the stem/root basal area) to show (1) the relationship of TWD in different tree heights (50% tree height (H50), breast height (BH), and roots) and the corresponding leaf water potential and (2) how mixture and drought influence the partitioning of growth and tree water. The analyses were made in a mature temperate forest of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica (L.)). Half of the plots were placed under conditions of extreme drought through automatic closing roof systems within the stand. We found a tight relationship of leaf water potentials and TWD at all tree compartments. Through this proven correlation at all tree heights we were also able to study the differences of TWD in all tree compartments next to the growth allocation. Whereas at the beginning of the growing period, trees prioritized growth of the upper stem, during the course of the year the growth of lower stem became a greater priority. Growth allocation of mixed spruces showed a tendency of a higher growth of the roots compared to the BH. However, spruces in interspecific neighborhoods exhibited a lesser TWD in the roots as spruces in intraspecific neighborhood. Beeches in intraspecific neighborhoods showed a higher TWD in BH compared to H50 as beeches in interspecific neighborhoods. Mixture seems to enhance the water supply of spruce trees, which should increase the stability of this species in a time of climatic warming. View Full-Text
Keywords: tree water status; climate change; rainfall exclusion; Picea abies (L.) Karst.; Fagus sylvatica (L.); root–shoot allometry tree water status; climate change; rainfall exclusion; Picea abies (L.) Karst.; Fagus sylvatica (L.); root–shoot allometry
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Schäfer, C.; Rötzer, T.; Thurm, E.A.; Biber, P.; Kallenbach, C.; Pretzsch, H. Growth and Tree Water Deficit of Mixed Norway Spruce and European Beech at Different Heights in a Tree and under Heavy Drought. Forests 2019, 10, 577.

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