- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) has strongly suffered from the exceptional 2018 drought and subsequent dry years that hit Central Europe. While many trees showed severe signs of crown dieback or died following the 2018 extreme drought, other co-occurring and neighboring trees showed no sign of dieback or only minor damage. The reasons why some trees were more severely impacted than others and which predisposing factors make some trees more vulnerable than others are still poorly understood. Here, we analyzed differences in long-term growth trends, neighborhood composition (competition and species diversity), early-warning signals, and growth responses to past severe droughts of co-occurring vital and severely declining beech trees at six sites in Switzerland. We aimed to connect tree vitality after 2018 with past long-term growth trajectories and investigated whether declining trees had already been more susceptible to drought than vital trees before dieback occurred. Overall, trees that showed severe crown dieback had a stronger growth decline than vital trees in the last 50 years. Declining trees exhibited stagnating and then decreasing growth trajectories even before signs of crown dieback occurred. Interestingly, we did not find significant differences in growth response to past severe droughts between the vitality classes, with the exception that vital trees recovered faster from past more severe droughts. Further, we could neither detect any difference in the effect of competition and neighborhood species composition on growth response, nor predict crown dieback based on early-warning signals which try to predict regime shifts by sudden changes in the autoregressive coefficient with lag 1, standard deviation and skewness. Our results indicate that unlike vital trees, declining beech trees showed predisposing signs for crown dieback by having lower growth rates during the last 50 years. Show more
Journal / seriesAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Pages / Article No.
Organisational unit03535 - Bugmann, Harald / Bugmann, Harald
MoreShow all metadata