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Impact of Climate Trends and Drought Events on the Growth of Oaks (Quercus robur L. and Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) within and beyond Their Natural Range

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Forest Growth and Yield Science, Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technical University of Munich, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 2, 85354 Freising, Germany
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Department of Forest and Wood Science, Faculty of AgriSciences, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602 Stellenbosch, South Africa
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Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova, viale dell’Università 16, Legnaro (PD), 35020 Padua, Italy
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(3), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9030108
Received: 14 December 2017 / Revised: 19 February 2018 / Accepted: 25 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
Due to predicted climate change, it is important to know to what extent trees and forests will be impacted by chronic and episodic drought stress. As oaks play an important role in European forestry, this study focuses on the growth response of sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) and pedunculate oak (Quercus robur (L.)) under contrasting climatic conditions. Analyses cover both site conditions of their natural occurrence (Southern Germany and Northeast Italy) and site conditions beyond their natural range (South Africa). The sites beyond their natural range represent possible future climate conditions. Tree-ring series from three different sites were compared and analysed using dendrochronological methods. The long-term growth development of oak trees appears to be similar across the sites, yet the growth level over time is higher in the drier and warmer climate than in the temperate zone. When compared with previous growth periods, growth models reveal that oak trees grew more than expected during the last decades. A recent setback in growth can be observed, although growth is still higher than the model predicts. By focusing on the short-term reactions of the trees, distinct drought events and periods were discovered. In each climatic region, similar growth reactions developed after drought periods. A decline in growth rate occurred in the second or third year after the drought event. Oaks in South Africa are currently exposed to a warmer climate with more frequent drought events. This climatic condition is a future prediction also for Europe. In view of this climate change, we discuss the consequences of the long- and short- term growth behaviour of oaks grown in the climate of South Africa for a tree species selection that naturally occurs in Europe. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate-growth; drought events; Quercus spp.; superposed epoch analyses; pointer years; dendrochronology; standardised precipitation evapotranspiration index climate-growth; drought events; Quercus spp.; superposed epoch analyses; pointer years; dendrochronology; standardised precipitation evapotranspiration index
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MDPI and ACS Style

Perkins, D.; Uhl, E.; Biber, P.; Du Toit, B.; Carraro, V.; Rötzer, T.; Pretzsch, H. Impact of Climate Trends and Drought Events on the Growth of Oaks (Quercus robur L. and Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) within and beyond Their Natural Range. Forests 2018, 9, 108.

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