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While shifting disturbance rates and climate change have major implications for the structure of contemporary forests through their effects on adult tree mortality, the responses of regenerating trees to disturbances and environmental variation will ultimately determine the structure and functioning of forests in the future. Assessing the resilience of forests to changing conditions requires information on what constrains tree performance during recruitment and whether recruitment dynamics have changed throughout history. We analyzed growth patterns in a large sample of tree cores (n = 14 793) collected from primary Picea forests throughout the Carpathian Mountains. Growth rate anomalies recorded in tree-rings permitted the reconstruction of several key recruitment and disturbance parameters: (1) whether individuals were recruited after a period of competitive suppression (Released Trees; RT; 66% of trees) or immediately following gap formation (Gap Recruited Trees; GRT; 33%), (2) growth rates during recruitment, (3) the duration of recruitment and (4) historical disturbance severity variation. High neighborhood density led to lower growth rates in RTs, but favored a higher growth rate in GRTs. Winter temperatures were positively correlated with Picea growth during recruitment, GRTs were also more sensitive to winter precipitation. Recent increases in growth during recruitment and reductions in recruitment intervals suggest that rates of canopy replacement have increased over recent decades. Assessments of forest resilience must recognize that constraints on tree growth differ during recruitment and interact with disturbance severity. An individual's experience prior to competitive release and factors altering the immediate abiotic conditions of a recruiting individual (competition and disturbance severity) are important determinants of canopy replacement rates; these recruitment parameters will certainly interact with shifting disturbance regimes. Ultimately, increasing growth rates and decreasing recruitment intervals suggest that forest dynamics are accelerating, and are potentially compensating for recent increases in tree mortality rates.

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... If resource acquisition fails to sustain the rates of wood synthesis permissible under ambient climatic conditions, then growth will be resource limited and likely decouple from climatic variability. For example, understory trees are generally less climate-sensitive than overstory cohorts (e.g., Teets et al. 2018;Saulnier et al. 2020), and less responsive to the alleviation of climate stress (e.g., boreal warming, Luo et al. 2020). The size-dependent impact of competition further suggests that the growth synchrony between overstory and understory tree cohorts will decline towards more benign growing conditions, as the growth of understory trees increasingly decouples from climate (see Fig 1.g-i). ...
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Adapting for competitiveness versus climatic stress tolerance constitutes a primary trade-off differentiating tree life-history strategies. This tradeoff likely influences where species’ range-limits occur, but such links are data-demanding to study and key mechanisms lack empirical support. Using an exceptionally rich dendroecological network, we assessed spatial variation in climate and competition effects on Picea abies and Fagus sylvatica throughout the Carpathian Ecoregion. Ring width synchrony aided in diagnosing how the prevalence of resource-limited (competition) and sink-limited (climate) growth changes with altitude and community composition. Contrasting growth patterns towards respective upper and lower range limits of Fagus and Picea reflected tradeoffs between competitive vs. cold-tolerant strategies. Fagus performance declined with altitudinal increases in climate sensitivity, but improved under interspecific competition. Picea growth increased towards the species’ lower range limit, but declined under interspecific competition. Warmer temperatures likely benefit competitively stronger species at mid elevations and thus imply range reductions for alpine conifers.
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The spatiotemporal change in the alpine timberline, an ecosystem ecotone, is an ideal indicator for use in climate change research. In order to gain a quantitative understanding of the response of the alpine timberline to climate change, the Hengduan Mountains region of China was selected as a study area and a series of 136 Landsat images covering this area that were acquired in 1985, 1995, 2005 and 2015 were collected. First, the alpine timberline was retrieved and the spatiotemporal dynamics of the timberline were explored. The effect of topography on the location of the alpine timberline was also analyzed. The results indicate that the average elevation of the timberline increased by about 55 (±8.54) m from 3992.58 m in 1985 to 4047.60 m in 2015; however, there was obvious spatial heterogeneity in these changes. On the whole, the average elevation of the timberline on shaded slopes (northern, northeastern, and northwestern slopes) were found to be about 160 m higher than on sunward slopes (southern, southeastern, and southwestern slopes). It was also found that, over the period 1985–2015, there has been an obvious acceleration in the upward tendency of the alpine timberline. Finally, the climate variables that are driving this timberline shift were identified and evaluated using the partial least squares (PLS) regression method. The results indicate that the average annual temperature (TEM_Year), total precipitation during the growing season (PRE_Grow), and growing season temperature (TEM_Grow) were the significant positive factors driving the rise in the timberline elevation; the total annual precipitation (PRE_Year) was found to have an unexpected negative influence. Besides, other climatic factors (e.g., strong winds) and non-climate variables (e.g., human influence and soil properties) should be also included in future related studies to enhance the understanding of the link between forest vegetation and climate change under extreme conditions.
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A 7-year study was conducted to examine the growth (diameter and root) response of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) seedlings to elevated CO2 (CO2ELV, 770 μmol (CO2) mol⁻¹) in different mixture types (monospecific (M): a Norway spruce seedling surrounded by six spruce seedlings, group-admixture (G): a spruce seedling surrounded by three spruce and three European beech seedlings, single-admixture (S): a spruce seedling surrounded by six beech seedlings). After seven years of treatments, no significant effect from elevated CO2 was found on the root dry mass (p = 0.90) and radial growth (p = 0.98) of Norway spruce. Neither did we find a significant interaction between [CO2] × mixing treatments (p = 0.56), i.e. there was not a significant effect of CO2 concentrations [CO2] in all the admixture types. On the contrary, spruce responses to admixture treatments were significant under CO2AMB (p = 0.05), which demonstrated that spruce mainly increased its growth (diameter and root) in M and neighbouring with beech was not favourable for spruce seedlings. In particular, spruce growth diminished when growing beside high proportions/numbers of European beech (S). Here, we also evaluated the association between tree-ring formation and climatic variables (precipitation and air temperature) in different admixture types under elevated and ambient CO2 (CO2AMB, 385 μmol (CO2) mol⁻¹). Overall, our result suggests that spruce responses to climate factors can be affected by tree species mixing and CO2 concentrations, i.e. the interaction between climatic variables × admixture types × [CO2] could alter the response of spruce to climatic variables.
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Context Recovery from disturbances is a prominent measure of forest ecosystem resilience, with swift recovery indicating resilient systems. The forest ecosystems of Central Europe have recently been affected by unprecedented levels of natural disturbance, yet our understanding of their ability to recover from disturbances is still limited. Objectives We here integrated satellite and airborne Lidar data to (i) quantify multi-decadal post-disturbance recovery of two indicators of forest structure, and (ii) compare the recovery trajectories of forest structure among managed and un-managed forests. Methods We developed satellite-based models predicting Lidar-derived estimates of tree cover and stand height at 30 m grain across a 3100 km² landscape in the Bohemian Forest Ecosystem (Central Europe). We summarized the percentage of disturbed area that recovered to > 40% tree cover and > 5 m stand height and quantified the variability in both indicators over a 30-year period. The analyses were stratified by three management regimes (managed, protected, strictly protected) and two forest types (beech-dominated, spruce-dominated). Results We found that on average 84% of the disturbed area met our recovery threshold 30 years post-disturbance. The rate of recovery was slower in un-managed compared to managed forests. Variability in tree cover was more persistent over time in un-managed forests, while managed forests strongly converged after a few decades post-disturbance. Conclusion We conclude that current management facilitates the recovery of forest structure in Central European forest ecosystems. However, our results underline that forests recovered well from disturbances also in the absence of human intervention. Our analysis highlights the high resilience of Central European forest ecosystems to recent disturbances.
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1.Global change ecologists have often used trees under weak competition (e.g., dominant/codominant trees) to examine relationships between climatic change and tree growth. Scaling up these results to a forest relies on the assumption that the climatic change‐tree growth relationship is not affected by tree‐level competition. 2. Using permanent sample plot data from the central Canadian boreal region where warming did not result in water deficit, we tested the above‐mentioned assumption by looking at whether the relationship between climatic change and tree growth varied with tree‐level competition, which was quantified using a modified Hegyi competition index. 3. We found that tree growth increased over time for trees under weak competition, but decreased for those under strong competition. The divergent temporal trends among trees under different levels of competition led to a non‐significant change in growth for our study plots. Growth increased with regional warming, atmospheric [CO2] and water availability for trees under weak competition, but not for those under strong competition. 4. Synthesis. Our results suggest that upscaling the growth responses of dominant/codominant trees to climate change to a forest or a region can lead to biased estimates. Tree‐level competition should be taken into account when expressing climatic change and tree growth relationships. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Increasing evidence indicates that forest disturbances are changing in response to global change, yet local variability in disturbance remains high. We quantified this considerable variability and analyzed whether recent disturbance episodes around the globe were consistently driven by climate, and if human influence modulates patterns of forest disturbance. We combined remote sensing data on recent (2001–2014) disturbances with in-depth local information for 50 protected landscapes and their surroundings across the temperate biome. Disturbance patterns are highly variable, and shaped by variation in disturbance agents and traits of prevailing tree species. However, high disturbance activity is consistently linked to warmer and drier than average conditions across the globe. Disturbances in protected areas are smaller and more complex in shape compared to their surroundings affected by human land use. This signal disappears in areas with high recent natural disturbance activity, underlining the potential of climate-mediated disturbance to transform forest landscapes.
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Accurately capturing medium- to low-frequency trends in tree-ring data is vital to assessing climatic response and developing robust reconstructions of past climate. Non-climatic disturbance can affect growth trends in tree-ring-width (RW) series and bias climate information obtained from such records. It is important to develop suitable strategies to ensure the development of chronologies that minimize these medium- to low-frequency biases. By performing high density sampling (760 trees) over a ~40-ha natural high-elevation Norway spruce (Picea abies) stand in the Romanian Carpathians, this study assessed the suitability of several sampling strategies for developing chronologies with an optimal climate signal for dendroclimatic purposes. There was a roughly equal probability for chronologies (40 samples each) to express a reasonable (r = 0.3–0.5) to non-existent climate signal. While showing a strong high-frequency response, older/larger trees expressed the weakest overall temperature signal. Although random sampling yielded the most consistent climate signal in all sub-chronologies, the outcome was still sub-optimal. Alternative strategies to optimize the climate signal, including very high replication and principal components analysis, were also unable to minimize this disturbance bias and produce chronologies adequately representing climatic trends, indicating that larger scale disturbances can produce synchronous pervasive disturbance trends that affect a large part of a sampled population. The Curve Intervention Detection (CID) method, used to identify and reduce the influence of disturbance trends in the RW chronologies, considerably improved climate signal representation (from r = 0.28 before correction to r = 0.41 after correction for the full 760 sample chronology over 1909–2009) and represents a potentially important new approach for assessing disturbance impacts on RW chronologies. Blue intensity (BI) also shows promise as a climatically more sensitive variable which, unlike RW, does not appear significantly affected by disturbance. We recommend that studies utilizing RW chronologies to investigate medium- to long-term climatic trends also assess disturbance impact on those series.
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Determining the drivers of shifting forest disturbance rates remains a pressing global change issue. Large-scale forest dynamics are commonly assumed to be climate driven, but appropriately scaled disturbance histories are rarely available to assess how disturbance legacies alter subsequent disturbance rates and the climate sensitivity of disturbance. We compiled multiple tree-ring based disturbance histories from primary Picea abies forest fragments distributed throughout five European landscapes spanning the Bohemian Forest and the Carpathian Mountains. The regional chronology includes 11 595 tree cores, with ring dates spanning the years 1750 to 2000, collected from 560 inventory plots in 37 stands distributed across a 1000 km geographic gradient, amounting to the largest disturbance chronology yet constructed in Europe. Decadal disturbance rates varied significantly through time and declined after 1920, resulting in widespread increases in canopy tree age. Approximately 75% of current canopy area recruited prior to 1900. Long-term disturbance patterns were compared to an historical drought reconstruction, and further linked to spatial variation in stand structure and contemporary disturbance patterns derived from LANDSAT imagery. Historically, decadal Palmer drought severity index minima corresponded with higher rates of canopy removal. The severity of contemporary disturbances increased with each stand's estimated time since last major disturbance, increased with mean diameter and declined with increasing within-stand structural variability. Reconstructed spatial patterns suggest that high small-scale structural variability has historically acted to reduce large-scale susceptibility and climate sensitivity of disturbance. Reduced disturbance rates since 1920, a potential legacy of high 19th century disturbance rates, have contributed to a recent region-wide increase in disturbance susceptibility. Increasingly common high-severity disturbances throughout primary Picea forests of Central Europe should be reinterpreted in light of both legacy effects (resulting in increased susceptibility) and climate change (resulting in increased exposure to extreme events). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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How do canopy-understory interactions respond to variation in disturbance severity over extended periods of time? For forests with different disturbance histories, do light availability and understory-cohort densities converge towards a common old-growth structure, or do historical legacies influence populations indefinitely?.
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Forest disturbances are sensitive to climate. However, our understanding of disturbance dynamics in response to climatic changes remains incomplete, particularly regarding large-scale patterns, interaction effects and dampening feedbacks. Here we provide a global synthesis of climate change effects on important abiotic ( re, drought, wind, snow and ice) and biotic (insects and pathogens) disturbance agents. Warmer and drier conditions particularly facilitate re, drought and insect disturbances, while warmer and wetter conditions increase disturbances from wind and pathogens. Widespread interactions between agents are likely to amplify disturbances, while indirect climate effects such as vegetation changes can dampen long-term disturbance sensitivities to climate. Future changes in disturbance are likely to be most pronounced in coniferous forests and the boreal biome. We conclude that both ecosystems and society should be prepared for an increasingly disturbed future of forests.
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The severity and spatial extent of bark-beetle outbreaks substantially increased in recent decades worldwide. The ongoing controversy about natural forest recovery after these outbreaks highlights the need for individual-based long-term studies, which disentangle processes driving forest regeneration. However, such studies have been lacking. To fill this gap, we followed the fates of 2,552 individual seedlings for 12 years after a large-scale bark-beetle outbreak that caused complete canopy dieback in mountain Norway spruce (Picea abies) forests in SE Germany. Here we explore the contribution of advance, disturbance-related and post-disturbance regeneration to forest recovery. Most seedlings originated directly within the three-year dieback of canopy trees induced by bark-beetle outbreak. After complete canopy dieback, the establishment of new seedlings was minimal. Surprisingly, advance regeneration formed only a minor part of all regeneration. However, because it had the highest survival rate, its importance increased over time. The most important factor influencing the survival of seedlings after disturbance was their height. Survival was further modified by microsite: seedlings established on dead wood survived best, whereas almost all seedlings surrounded by graminoids died. For 5 cm tall seedlings, annual mortality ranged from 20% to 50% according to the rooting microsite. However, for seedlings taller than 50 cm, annual mortality was below 5% at all microsites. While microsite modified seedling mortality, it did not affect seedling height growth. A model of regeneration dynamics based on short-term observations accurately predicts regeneration height growth, but substantially underestimates mortality rate - thus predicting more surviving seedlings than were observed. We found that Picea abies forests were able to regenerate naturally even after severe bark-beetle outbreaks owing to advance and particularly disturbance-related regeneration. This, together with microsite-specific mortality, yields structurally and spatially diverse forests. Our study thus highlights the so far unrecognized importance of disturbance-related regeneration for stand recovery after bark-beetle outbreaks.
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The influence of forest ecology and strategic planning has increased in importance to support the management of mixed-species forests to enhance biodiversity. However, little is known about competitive and facilitative interactions between trees and species in mixed fir-beech-spruce forests, mostly because of a lack of long-term experimental research. In the 1960s, long-term sample plots were established in the Western Carpathians to develop region-specific yield models. Trees in the plots were measured at 5- to 16-year intervals from 1967(68). In 2010, the positions of standing trees in all plots were identified spatially. Stump positions were also identified to record the coordinates of trees that had been removed or had died. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the applicability of widely used competition indices for mature fir-beech-spruce mixed forests and to test whether the tree competition zone changes among species and forest stands of different stocking density. Results showed that the best competition index was based on the comparison of the basal area of competitors and the subject tree in the radius defined as a function of stand density and species. In addition, beech was found to be a strong self-competitor, which was not the case for silver fir. Results suggest that simpler competition indices are better suited for such diverse forests, as more complex indices do not describe the competition interactions sufficiently well.
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Treefall gap, canopy opening caused by the death of one or more trees, is the dominant form of disturbance in many forest systems worldwide. Gaps play an important role in forest ecology helping to preserve bio- and pedo-diversity, influencing nutrient cycles, and maintaining the complex structure of the late-successional forests. Over the last 30 years, numerous reviews have been written describing gap dynamics. Here we synthesize current understanding on gap dynamics relating to tree regeneration with particular emphasis on gap characteristics considered critical to develop ecologically sustainable forest management systems and to conserve native biodiversity. Specifically, we addressed the question: how do gaps influence forest structure? From the literature reviewed, the size of gaps induces important changes in factors such as light intensity, soil humidity and soil biological properties that influence tree species regeneration and differ in gaps of different sizes. Shade-tolerant species can colonize small gaps; shade-intolerant species need large gaps for successful regeneration. Additionally, gap dynamics differ between temperate, boreal; and tropical forests, showing the importance of climate differences in driving forest regeneration. This review summarizes information of use to forest managers who design cutting regimes that mimic natural disturbances and who must consider forest structure, forest climate, and the role of natural disturbance in their designs.
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Seedling recruitment is a critical life history stage for trees, and successful recruitment is tightly linked to both abiotic factors and biotic interactions. In order to better understand how tree species' distributions may change in response to anticipated climate change, more knowledge of the effects of complex climate and biotic interactions is needed. We conducted a seed-sowing experiment to investigate how temperature, precipitation and biotic interactions impact recruitment of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) seedlings in southern Norway. Seeds were sown into intact vegetation and experimentally created gaps. To study the combined effects of temperature and precipitation, the experiment was replicated across 12 sites, spanning a natural climate gradient from boreal to alpine and from sub-continental to oceanic. Seedling emergence and survival were assessed 12 and 16 months after sowing, respectively, and above-ground biomass and height were determined at the end of the experiment. Interestingly, very few seedlings were detected in the boreal sites, and the highest number of seedlings emerged and established in the alpine sites, indicating that low temperature did not limit seedling recruitment. Site precipitation had an overall positive effect on seedling recruitment, especially at intermediate precipitation levels. Seedling emergence, establishment and biomass were higher in gap plots compared to intact vegetation at all temperature levels. These results suggest that biotic interactions in the form of competition may be more important than temperature as a limiting factor for tree seedling recruitment in the sub- and low-alpine zone of southern Norway.
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The R package treeclim helps perform numerical calibration of proxy-climate relationships, with an emphasis on tree-ring chronologies. The package provides a unified, fast, and public-domain compilation of established methods while adding novel functionality not implemented in other software. treeclim includes static and moving bootstrapped response and correlation functions, seasonal correlation analysis, a test for spurious temporal changes in proxy-climate relations, and the evaluation of reconstruction skills. The stationary bootstrap method has been incorporated into the program as a ‘blocks of blocks’ resampling scheme. Applications of treeclim include the calibration of proxy timeseries used in paleoclimatology, forest ecology, and environmental monitoring.
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The growth response of 4-year-old black spruce seedlings (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) to reduced radiation availability (DIFN) caused by herbaceous and woody competitors was investigated on a clay and on a loam site on a research plot in Ontario, Canada. Variability in black spruce growth was less explicable by reduced radiation availability caused by woody competitors than growth variability caused by herbaceous competitors. On the clay site, competition from fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium L.), Canada bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) Nutt.) and red raspberry (Rubus idaeus L. var. strigosus (Michx.) Maxim.) decreased black spruce diameter by more than 40% compared to seedlings without competition. Canada bluejoint grass and fireweed also distinctly reduced black spruce diameter performance on loam (> 30%). These results are discussed in relation to the need of vegetation control.
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The Carpathians are the longest mountain range in Europe and a geographic barrier between Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans. To investigate the climate of the area, the CARPATCLIM project members collected, quality-checked, homogenized, harmonized, and interpolated daily data for 16 meteorological variables and many derived indicators related to the period 1961–2010. The principal outcome of the project is the Climate Atlas of the Carpathian Region, hosted on a dedicated website (www.carpatclim-eu.org) and made of high-resolution daily grids (0.1° × 0.1°) of all variables and indicators at different time steps. In this article, we analyze the spatial and temporal variability of 10 variables: minimum, mean, and maximum temperature, daily temperature range, precipitation, cloud cover, relative sunshine duration, relative humidity, surface air pressure, and wind speed at 2 m. For each variable, we present the gridded climatologies for the period 1961–2010 and discuss the linear trends both on an annual and seasonal basis. Temperature was found to increase in every season, in particular in the last three decades, confirming the trends occurring in Europe; wind speed decreased in every season; cloud cover and relative humidity decreased in spring, summer, and winter, and increased in autumn, while relative sunshine duration behaved in the opposite way; precipitation and surface air pressure showed no significant trend, though they increased slightly on an annual basis. We also discuss the correlation between the variables and we highlight that in the Carpathian Region positive and negative sunshine duration anomalies are highly correlated to the corresponding temperature anomalies during the global dimming (1960s and 1970s) and brightening (1990s and 2000s) periods.
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The Carpathian Mountains region cover areas from seven countries of central and southeastern Europe, the mountain chain having major regional influences on the temperate climate, specific to latitudes between 43°N and 49°N. In order to identify changes in the annual temperature extremes, the Mann–Kendall nonparametric trend test has been applied to several thermal indices, recommended by the expert team on climate change detection and indices. The indices were computed from gridded daily datasets of minimum and maximum temperature at 0.1° resolution (~10 km), available online within the framework of the project CarpatClim (climate of the Carpathian region) for the period 1961–2010. The results show decreasing trends in cold-related indices, especially in the number of frost days, and increasing trends in warm-related ones. The trend patterns are consistent over the region, i.e., there are no mixed trends for a given index. Regional differences in climate extreme trends within the Carpathian region are related to altitude, rather than latitude. The number of summer days is increasing over the entire area, while the number of tropical nights presents upward trends mainly at lower elevations. The Warm Spell Duration Index presents upward trends over 60 % of the region. The (annual) East Atlantic pattern shows strong correlations with the warm-related indices. Our results are in agreement with previous temperature-related studies in the region.
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Individual trees, not forests, respond to climate. Such an individual-scale approach has seldom been used to retrospectively track the radial growth responses of trees to climate in dendrochronology. The aim of this study is to adopt this individual view to retrospectively assess tree sensitivity to climate warming, and to evaluate and compare the potential drivers of tree growth responses to climate acting at species, site and individual scales.Following a dendroecological framework, we sampled a network of 29 Pinus uncinata forests in NE Spain and obtained tree-ring widths series from 642 trees. Individual features as northness, elevation, slope, basal area, sapwood area, tree height and tree age were used to evaluate the potential drivers of tree growth responses to climate. The analyzed dataset includes diverse ecological and biogeographical conditions. The tree growth responses to climate were assessed by relating growth indices to climatic variables using linear-mixed effects models.Maximum November temperatures during the year prior to tree-ring formation enhanced P. uncinata growth mainly in mid-elevation sites, whereas at higher elevations growth was more dependent on the positive effect of warmer minimum May temperatures during the year of tree-ring formation. Current June precipitation was the positive main climatic driver of growth in sites prone to water deficit such as the southernmost limit of the species distribution area or very steep sites. Elevation was the main factor controlling how much growth variability is explained by climate at the site and tree scales. Climate warming was more intense during the early 20th century, when the importance of elevation as an indirect modulator of growth declined as compared with the late 20th century.Synthesis. The individual-scale approach taken in this study allowed detecting that trees growing at southern and low-elevation sites were the most negatively affected by warm and dry summer conditions. Our results emphasize that both (i) an individual-scale approach to quantify tree growth responses to climate and (ii) a detailed evaluation of the potential biotic and abiotic drivers of those individual responses are necessary to understand climate sensitivity of trees.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Questions: How have the historical frequency and severity of natural disturbances in primary Picea abies forests varied at the forest stand and landscape level during recent centuries? Is there a relationship between physiographic attributes and historical patterns of disturbance severity in this system? Location: Primary P. abies forests of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, Romania; a region thought to hold the largest concentration of primary P. abies forests in Europe’s temperate zone. Methods: We used dendrochronological methods applied to many plots over a large area (132 plots representing six stands in two landscapes), thereby providing information at both stand and landscape levels. Evidence of past canopy disturbance was derived from two patterns of radial growth: (1) abrupt, sustained increases in growth (releases) and (2) rapid early growth rates (gap recruitment). Thesemethods were augmented with non-metricmultidimensional scaling to facilitate the interpretation of factors influencing past disturbance. Results: Of the two growth pattern criteria used to assess past disturbance, gap recruitment was the most common, representing 80% of disturbance evidence overall. Disturbance severities varied over the landscape, including stand-replacing events, as well as low- and intermediate-severity disturbances. More than half of the study plots experienced extreme-severity disturbances at the plot level, although they were not always synchronized across stands and landscapes. Plots indicating high-severity disturbances were often spatially clustered (indicating disturbances up to 20 ha), while this tendency was less clear for lowand moderate-severity disturbances. Physiographic attributes such as altitude and land form were only weakly correlated with disturbance severity. Historical documents suggest windstorms as the primary disturbance agent, while the role of bark beetles (Ips typographus) remains unclear. Conclusions: The historical disturbance regime revealed in this multi-scale study is characterized by considerable spatial and temporal heterogeneity,which could be seen among plots within stands, among stands within landscapes and between the two landscapes. When the disturbance regime was evaluated at these larger scales, the entire range of disturbance severity was revealed within this landscape.
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1 Annual growth was measured over eight consecutive years (1984-92) for saplings and adults of a diverse group of nonpioneer tree species in a lowland neotropical rain forest (La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica). The study species included five emergents and one canopy species. 2 Adult diameter increments varied markedly from year to year for all species. In the year of highest growth for individual species, mean increments were 25-112% greater than in the year of least growth. These among-year differences were significant for five of the six species. 3 The variation in adult growth rates showed strong temporal concordance across species. For all six species, mean adult diameter increments were higher than average in 1985 and were lower than average in 1986 and 1988. 4 Marked year to year growth differences were also shown by juvenile trees of these species. In the class greater than or equal to 50 cm tall and less than or equal to 1 cm in diameter, mean diameter increments were 3-10 times greater in the year of highest growth than in the year of least growth. In each of the other two juvenile size classes (1-10 cm and 10-30 cm in diameter), two species showed highly significant among-year growth variation. 5 Within all three juvenile size classes, the year to year growth variation showed significant temporal concordance across species. As for adults, 1985 and/or 1984 were among the two highest growth years. 6 That these patterns of interyear growth differences were shared across tree species and between saplings and adults demonstrates significant impacts of climatic variability on the productivity of this 'equable' ecosystem. 7 Annual rainfall was not correlated with the annual growth patterns. Although the two years of highest overall growth, 1984 and 1985, were exceptionally dry, adult trees of two species showed their greatest growth in one of the highest rainfall years (1990). 8 Recent studies suggest that photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) controls productivity of tropical wet forests. Recent data from La Selva show strong year to year variation in monthly PAR. Demonstration of a causal relationship will, however, require concurrent measurement of tree growth, PAR, and other climatic factors. 9 Marked temporal variation in tree growth in tropical wet forests will have pervasive consequences for many processes in these complex ecosystems. Moreover, the degree of climatic sensitivity found in this study indicates that tropical rain forests could be strongly affected by global climate change.
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AimTree growth may be enhanced by carbon dioxide fertilization unless drought stress becomes too severe, yet the likely increase in tree growth under a warmer climate is still controversial. Tree mortality has increased in some regions, but its multifactorial nature makes the prediction of likely global trends difficult. The aims of this work are: (1) to assess which abiotic, structural and competition factors influence tree growth and tree mortality in mainland Spain, and (2) to evaluate whether these processes would drive species distributions and would improve current niche model predictions. LocationContinental Spain. Methods We projected species distributional models by integrating nonparametric tree growth and tree mortality models based on repeated surveys of diameter at breast height and mortality for 40,721 trees distributed in 45,301 plots, which include the 11 most common canopy tree species in continental Spain, as measured in the second and third National Forest Inventories, with a mean lag time of 11 years. ResultsTree growth and tree mortality were explained by an assemblage of many factors, among which climate and competition played a key role. The accuracy of models including tree growth and tree mortality in predicting tree habitat suitability was comparable to classical niche models based on species occurrence. Projections under climate change showed for 9 out of 11 species, a likely increase in tree growth that would be counteracted by an increase in tree mortality, suggesting that even if growth rates increase, mortality would limit the species ranges under global warming expectations. Main conclusionsGrowth and mortality are major determinants of species distributions. Under future climate change expectations, our model suggests that growth may increase for some Iberian species, but even in this case, species ranges at the rear edge would be limited by an increase in mortality rates.
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Climatic constraints on tree growth mediate an important link between terrestrial and atmospheric carbon pools. Tree rings provide valuable information on climate‐driven growth patterns, but existing data tend to be biased towards older trees on climatically extreme sites. Understanding climate change responses of biogeographic regions requires data that integrate spatial variability in growing conditions and forest structure. We analyzed both temporal (c. 1901‐2010) and spatial variation in radial growth patterns in 9 876 trees from fragments of primary Picea abies forests spanning the latitudinal and altitudinal extent of the Carpathian arc. Growth was positively correlated with summer temperatures and spring moisture availability throughout the entire region. However, important seasonal variation in climate responses occurred along geospatial gradients. At northern sites, winter precipitation and October temperatures of the year preceding ring formation were positively correlated with ring width. In contrast, trees at the southern extent of the Carpathians responded negatively to warm and dry conditions in autumn of the year preceding ring formation. An assessment of regional synchronization in radial growth variability showed temporal fluctuations throughout the 20th century linked to the onset of moisture limitation in southern landscapes. Since the beginning of the study period, differences between high and low elevations in the temperature sensitivity of tree growth generally declined, while moisture sensitivity increased at lower elevations. Growth trend analyses demonstrated changes in absolute tree growth rates linked to climatic change, with basal area increments in northern landscapes and lower altitudes responding positively to recent warming. Tree growth has predominantly increased with rising temperatures in the Carpathians, accompanied by early indicators that portions of the mountain range are transitioning from temperature to moisture limitation. Continued warming will alleviate large‐scale temperature constraints on tree growth, giving increasing weight to local drivers that are more challenging to predict. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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A tree's radial growth sequence can be thought of as an aggregate of different growth components such as age and size limitations, presence or absence of disturbance events, continuous impact of climate variability and variance induced by unknown origin. The potentially very complex growth patterns with prominent temporal and spatial variability imply that our understanding of climate-vegetation feedbacks essentially benefits from the expansion of large tree ring networks into data-poor regions, and our ability to disentangle growth constraints by comparing ring series at multiple scales. In this study, we analyze Central-Eastern Europe's most substantial assemblage of primary Norway spruce forests found in the Carpathian arc. The vast data set, >10,000 tree-ring series, is stratified along a prominent gradient in climate response space over four separate landscapes. We integrated curve intervention detection and dendroclimatic standardization to decompose tree growth variance into climatic, disturbance and residual components to explore the behavior of the components over increasingly larger spatial hierarchies. We show that the residual variance of unknown origin is the most prominent variance in individual Carpathian spruce trees, but at larger spatial hierarchies, climate variance dominates. The variance induced by climate was further explored with common correlation analyses, growth response to extreme climate years and forward modeling of tree growth to identify leading modes of climate response, and potentially non-linear and mixed climate response patterns. We find that the climatic response of the different forest landscapes overall can be described as an asymptotic response to June and July temperatures, most likely intermixed with influence from winter precipitation. In the collection of landscapes, Southern Romania stands out as being the least temperature sensitive and most likely exhibiting the most complicated mixed temperature and moisture limitation.
Article
Canopy gaps play a crucial role for forest dynamics processes, as they largely determine light transmission to lower canopy strata, thereby controlling the turnover of tree individuals in the stand. Even though their functional importance is undisputed, quantitative data on the rate of gap creation and gap closure, and the temporal change in gap size distribution patterns in temperate virgin forests are scarce. We used a repeated inventory (line-intercept sampling) of gap size frequency and fraction in a virgin beech (Fagus sylvatica) forest in the Slovakian Carpathians over a 10-year interval (2003–2013) to test the hypotheses that (i) disturbance intensity and thus gap creation and gap closure rate change only little over time, (ii) gaps persist or even expand, until they are filled primarily by vertical ingrowth of trees from lower strata, and (iii) gap creation promotes the height growth of released saplings and sub-canopy trees. In the 2003 and 2013 inventories, 37 and 30 gaps >20 m² size were mapped along a total of 3217 m transect line investigated. The large majority of gaps was <100 m² in size; large gaps >500 m² were very rare. Gap fraction decreased significantly from 13.6% in 2003 to 8.2% in 2013 (associated with a reduction in mean gap size from 261 to 96 m²), indicating considerable variation in disturbance intensity in the past decades. Before 2003, both large gaps (probably caused by wind throw) and small gaps (from dying trees) have been formed, while only small gaps developed in the period 2003–2013. Small gaps were closed within a few years through rapid horizontal canopy expansion of neighboring beech trees, while vertical gap filling through ingrowth of lower canopy layers and regeneration was the dominant process in larger gaps. Saplings and trees in lower canopy layers formed a heterogeneous understory in large parts of recently formed gaps and responded to this process with increased height growth. We conclude that, despite considerable variation in disturbance intensity over time, this beech virgin forest responds to gap formation with high resilience through rapid lateral canopy expansion in small gaps and ingrowth of saplings and sub-dominant tree layers in larger gaps.
Article
Wind is one of the most important natural disturbances influencing forest structure, ecosystem function, and successional processes worldwide. This study quantifies the stand-scale effects of intermediate-severity windstorms (i.e., “blowdowns”) on (1) live and dead legacy structure, (2) aboveground carbon storage, and (3) tree regeneration and associated stand dynamics at four mature, mixed hardwood-conifer forest sites in the northeastern United States. We compare wind-affected forests to adjacent reference conditions (i.e., undisturbed portions of the same stands) 0-8 years post-blowdown using parametric (ANOVA) and nonparametric (NMS ordination) analyses. We supplement inventory plots and downed coarse woody detritus (DCWD) transects with hemispherical photography to capture spatial variation in the light environment. Although recent blowdowns transferred a substantial proportion of live overstory trees to DCWD, residual live tree basal area was high (19-59% of reference areas). On average, the initial post-blowdown ratio of DCWD carbon to standing live tree carbon was 2.72 in blowdown stands and 0.18 in reference stands, indicating a large carbon transfer from live to dead pools. Despite these dramatic changes, structural complexity remained high in blowdown areas, as indicated by the size and species distributions of overstory trees, abundance of sound and rotten downed wood, spatial patterns of light availability, and variability of understory vegetation. Furthermore, tree species composition was similar between blowdown and reference areas at each site, with generally shade-tolerant species dominating across multiple canopy strata. Community response to intermediate-severity blowdown at these sites suggests a dynamic in which disturbance maintains late-successional species composition rather than providing a regeneration opportunity for shade-intolerant, pioneer species. Our findings suggest that intermediate-severity wind disturbances can contribute to stand-scale structural complexity as well as development towards late-successional species composition, at least when shade-tolerant regeneration is present pre-blowdown. Advance regeneration thus enhances structural and compositional resilience to this type of disturbance. This study provides a baseline for multi-cohort silvicultural systems designed to restore heterogeneity associated with natural disturbance dynamics. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
Tree growth response to recent environmental changes is of key interest for forest ecology. This study addressed the following questions with respect to Norway spruce (Picea abies, L. Karst.) in Central Europe: Has tree growth accelerated during the last five decades? What are the main environmental drivers of the observed tree radial stem growth and how much variability can be explained by them? Using a nationwide dendrochronological sampling of Norway spruce in the Czech Republic (1246 trees, 266 plots), novel regional tree-ring width chronologies for 40(±10)- and 60(±10)-year old trees were assembled, averaged across three elevation zones (break points at 500 and 700m). Correspondingly averaged drivers, including temperature, precipitation, nitrogen (N) deposition and ambient CO2 concentration, were used in a general linear model (GLM) to analyze the contribution of these in explaining tree ring width variability for the period from 1961 to 2013. Spruce tree radial stem growth responded strongly to the changing environment in Central Europe during the period, with a mean tree ring width increase of 24 and 32% for the 40- and 60-year old trees, respectively. The indicative General Linear Model analysis identified CO2, precipitation during the vegetation season, spring air temperature (March-May) and N-deposition as the significant covariates of growth, with the latter including interactions with elevation zones. The regression models explained 57% and 55% of the variability in the two tree ring width chronologies, respectively. Growth response to N-deposition showed the highest variability along the elevation gradient with growth stimulation/limitation at sites below/above 700m. A strong sensitivity of stem growth to CO2 was also indicated, suggesting that the effect of rising ambient CO2 concentration (direct or indirect by increased water use efficiency) should be considered in analyses of long-term growth together with climatic factors and N-deposition.
Article
Drought events occurring under warmer temperatures (i.e. “hotter droughts”) have resulted in widespread tree mortality across the globe, and may result in biome-level vegetation shifts to alternate vegetation types if there is a failure of trees to regenerate. We investigated how overstorey trees, understorey vegetation, and local climatic and edaphic conditions interact to influence tree regeneration, a key prerequisite for resilience, in a region that has experienced severe overstorey tree mortality due to hotter droughts and beetle infestations. We used detailed field observations from 142 sites that spanned a broad range of environmental conditions to evaluate the effects of climate and recent tree mortality on tree regeneration dynamics in the spatially extensive piñon (Pinus edulis)-juniper (Juniperus osteosperma, Juniperus monosperma) woodland vegetation type of the southwestern USA. We used a structural equation modelling framework to identify how tree mortality and local climatic and edaphic conditions affect piñon and juniper regeneration and electivity analyses to quantify the species-specific associations of tree juveniles with overstorey trees and understorey shrubs. Piñon regeneration appears to be strongly dependent upon advanced regeneration, (i.e. the survival of juvenile trees that established prior to the mortality event), the survival of adult seed-bearing trees (inferred from basal area of surviving trees) and the facilitative effects of overstorey trees for providing favourable microsites for seedling establishment. Model results suggest that local edaphoclimatic conditions directly affected piñon and juniper regeneration, such that stands with hotter, drier local climatic conditions and lower soil available water capacity had limited tree regeneration following large-scale dieback. Synthesis. We identify four indicators of resilience to hotter drought conditions: (1) abundant advance regeneration of tree seedlings; (2) sufficient canopy cover for survival of emergent seedlings and existing regeneration; (3) sufficient seed source from surviving trees with high reproductive output; (4) areas with cooler and wetter local climates and greater soil available water capacity. In the absence of these conditions, there is greater likelihood of woodlands transitioning to more xeric vegetation types following dieback.
Article
The growth response of trees to changing climate is frequently discussed as increasing temperatures and more severe droughts become major risks for forest ecosystems. However, the ability of trees to cope with the changing climate and the effects of other environmental factors on climate-growth relationships are still poorly understood. There is thus an increasing need to understand the ability of individual trees to cope with changing climate in various environments. To improve the current understanding, a large tree-ring network covering the whole area of the Czech Republic (in 7 × 7 km grids) was utilized to investigate how the climate-growth relationships of Norway spruce are affected by 1) various geographical variables, 2) changing levels of acidic deposition, 3) soil characteristics and 4) age, tree diameter and neighbourhood competition. The period from 1930 to 2013 was divided into four, 21-year long intervals of differing levels of acidic deposition, which peaked in the 1972–1993 period. Our individual-based, spatiotemporal, multivariate analyses revealed that spruce growth was mostly affected by drought and warm summers. Drought plays the most important negative role at lower altitudes, while the positive effect of higher temperature was identified for trees at higher altitudes. Increased levels of acidic deposition, together with geographical variables, were identified as the most important factors affecting climate-growth association. Tree age, tree size and soil characteristics also significantly modulate climate-growth relationships. The importance of all environmental variables on climate-growth relationships was suppressed by acidic deposition during periods when this was at a high level; growth was significantly more enhanced by spring and summer temperatures during these periods. Our results suggest that spruce will undergo significant growth reduction under the predicted climate changes, especially at the lower altitudes which lie outside of its natural range.
Article
What seems like a trivial task is one of the most difficult ones in functional plant ecology and biogeography: selecting the appropriate measures of temperature for an ecologically meaningful description of habitat conditions and for a mechanistic understanding of responses of plants. The difficulty becomes even more severe at elevations above the climatic tree limit, where plant stature, topography and seasonal snow cover interact in producing temperature conditions that largely deviate from weather station records. Temporal resolution and the distinction between extremes and means for biogeographic applications are emphasized. We summarize the key issues in handling temperature as a driver of plant life in general and in high elevation ecosystems in particular. Future directions in plant-temperature research at high elevation need to resolve the thermal species range limit issues (identify the fundamental temperature niche) and the complex controls of plant development (phenology) in a topography context.
Article
Norway spruce has experienced unprecedented forest declines in recent decades, leading to exten-sive salvage logging. Currently, because of the conversion of conifer forests into more natural mixedforests in Central Europe, spruce has begun to be replaced, mainly by European beech. The frequentlydiscussed changing climate has a crucial effect on the vitality of both species. To improve our under-standing of spruce and beech responses to climate change, including more frequent temperature anddrought extremes, we investigated the impact of temporal climate variability on the growth of thesespecies along an elevation gradient. In total, 79 spruce and 90 beech trees were used to build species-specific tree-ring width chronologies representing the altitudinal range in which both species grow (450,650, 800, and 950 m asl) under the conditions of the Czech Republic. The climate–growth relationshipindicates strong dependence of spruce and beech tree-ring growth on spring temperature (Mar–May)at all sites and summer (Jun–Aug) water availability at lower altitudes. Significant temporal shifts inthe climate–growth relationships of both species indicate an increasing negative effect of summer tem-perature and positive effect of water availability in summer. The increasing drought and temperaturesensitivity of both species suggest a significant impact of the predicted climate change on such forestecosystems. Discussion emphasizes the current importance of adaptive forest management strategies.
Article
Increasing frequency and intensity of drought extremes associated with global change are a key challenge for forest ecosystems. Consequently, the quantification of drought effects on tree growth as a measure of vitality is of highest concern from the perspectives of both science and management. To date, a multitude of drought indices have been used to accompany or replace primary climatic variables in the analysis of drought-related growth responses. However, it remains unclear how individual drought metrics compare to each other in terms of their ability to capture drought signals in tree growth.
Article
Concern is rising on whether forest function and structure will recover from drought-related impacts, which are expected to increase under global warming. Understanding demographic mechanisms underlying resilience (i.e. capacity of a system or individual to restore its structure and function prior to a disturbance) is critical for properly assessing forest vulnerability to drought. The simultaneous estimation of resilience of the main demographic rates governing tree population dynamics (growth, recruitment and survival) allows for a comprehensive assessment of forest response capacity. We evaluate the resilience of a large Pinus pinaster forest (approx. 7500 ha) in Southern Europe to one of the driest decades of the last 70 years (i.e. 1942–52). As forest structure and management influence demographic rates, their effects were removed prior to calculating resilience values for growth, recruitment and survival. The extremely dry conditions negatively impacted tree growth and recruitment during drought and slightly decreased survival in the decade after drought. Resilience values were mostly high, despite some low values for recruitment or survival in some forest sections, which indicate a general recovery of growth and recruitment and an absence of widespread reductions in survival after drought. A joint analysis of the Demographic Resilience Index (calculated by combining growth, recruitment and survival resilience; DRI) and resilience values of each rate allows to detect demographic compensation effects. High DRI values, even in sections where resilience in recruitment or survival was low, indicate that low resilience values in a given rate were compensated by high resilience in the remaining rates. Recorded resilience could allow the long-term persistence of the studied forest, although increased frequency and intensity of droughts might exceed the critical threshold of system’s resilience. Our approach provides a step toward an exhaustive resilience assessment; however, further research should consider potential resilience thresholds arising from more complex non-linear dynamics.
Chapter
The Carpathian mountain region is one of the most significant natural refuges on the European continent. It is home to Europe’s most extensive tracts of montane forest, the largest remaining virgin forest and natural mountain beech-fir forest ecosystems. Adding to the biodiversity are semi-natural habitats such as hay meadows, which are the result of centuries of traditional land management. Like other mountain regions areas, the Carpathian mountain region provides important ecosystem goods and services such as water provision, food products, forest products and tourism. But these ecosystem services are feared to be under threat from climate change.
Article
Ecological memory is central to how ecosystems respond to disturbance and is maintained by two types of legacies – information and material. Species life-history traits represent an adaptive response to disturbance and are an information legacy; in contrast, the abiotic and biotic structures (such as seeds or nutrients) produced by single disturbance events are material legacies. Disturbance characteristics that support or maintain these legacies enhance ecological resilience and maintain a “safe operating space” for ecosystem recovery. However, legacies can be lost or diminished as disturbance regimes and environmental conditions change, generating a “resilience debt” that manifests only after the system is disturbed. Strong effects of ecological memory on post-disturbance dynamics imply that contingencies (effects that cannot be predicted with certainty) of individual disturbances, interactions among disturbances, and climate variability combine to affect ecosystem resilience. We illustrate these concepts and introduce a novel ecosystem resilience framework with examples of forest disturbances, primarily from North America. Identifying legacies that support resilience in a particular ecosystem can help scientists and resource managers anticipate when disturbances may trigger abrupt shifts in forest ecosystems, and when forests are likely to be resilient.
Article
1.Large, severe disturbances drive many forest ecosystems over the long term, but pose management uncertainties when human experience with them is limited. Recent continent-scale outbreaks of bark beetles across the temperate Northern Hemisphere have raised major concerns as to whether coniferous forests will regenerate back toward pre-outbreak condition and meet possible reforestation objectives. To date, however, analyses of post-outbreak regeneration across broad spatial and temporal scales have been rare, and entirely lacking for many regions.2.Following a series of large, severe (~99% overstory mortality) outbreaks of spruce bark beetles Ips typographus in Central Europe, we capitalized on an extensive forest inventory data set (n=615 plots across ~7000 ha) to evaluate regeneration dynamics in Norway spruce Picea abies forests across the Bohemian Forest Ecosystem (spanning Germany and the Czech Republic). We asked whether neighbourhood effects (conspecific advance regeneration of spruce) would support prompt regeneration back to spruce forest, or if the rapid, severe canopy mortality would overwhelm this influence and promote pioneer and broadleaf species. We tracked 15 years of post-outbreak regeneration dynamics (occupancy, density, height, composition) of all tree species and evaluated initial variations in successional pathway and structure.3.Median tree regeneration density increased from ~400 trees ha−1 at the time of outbreak to ~2000 trees ha−1 within a decade, and occupancy increased from 58% to 76%. The increases were driven by spruce, which primarily recruited from advance regeneration, gradually occupying greater height classes. Only one broadleaf/pioneer species increased in relative proportion, for a brief (<3-year) period before declining again. Nevertheless, both pure spruce and spruce-broadleaf stands were common and, coupled with wide variations in density and height, contributed to diverse early-successional structure.4.Synthesis and applications. Contrary to common expectations, spruce beetle outbreaks in Central Europe effectively promoted their host in the long-term. Outbreak-affected forests are naturally self-replacing even after severe canopy mortality, when positive neighbourhood effects of conspecific advance regeneration lead to rapid replacement of the dominant species. Thus, natural regeneration may be considered among the most effective ways to meet possible reforestation objectives in forests destroyed by beetles.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
In 1976-1977, 284 gaps (canopy-opening sizes 1-1490 m^2) were sampled (age, size, species composition) from old-growth mesic forests in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area and Walker Cove Research Natural Area. In 1983, the woody vegetation (stems @>1 cm dbh) of 273 of these gaps was resampled, rates of gap closure by canopy tree branch growth and sapling height growth were estimated, and incidences of disturbances occurring since 1976-1977 were noted. The average yearly crown extension growth rate was 18 cm/yr, with much variation among species and individuals. Some individual crowns grew into the canopy opening as much as 4 m in the 7 yr. Saplings grew an average of 30 cm/yr in height, again with much variation. Overall, taller saplings grew somewhat faster than smaller ones and saplings in large gaps grew faster than those in small gaps. These two rates of gap closure together suggest that most saplings will require two or more gap episodes to reach the forest canopy. For woody vegetation, basal area per unit gap area was originally highest in small gaps, though it increased between sampling dates most in large gaps. Stem density had been highest in small old gaps, but decreased the most in old gaps. Tsuga canadensis, Fagus grandifolia, Acer saccharum, and Halesia carolina were the most important species in the gaps studied. Most species did not change in relative density or dominance between the two sampling dates and showed no significant correlations between those parameters and gap size and age. Overall, Tsuga and Fagus decreased and Acer saccharum increased in importance. High rates of repeat disturbance favor species able to grow in intermediate light levels and to survive several periods of suppression before reaching the canopy.
Article
To preserve multi-centennial length variability in annual tree-ring chronologies, the Regional Curve Standardization (RCS) method calculates anomalies from a regionally common, non-climatic age-trend function. The influence of various factors on the estimation of the regional curve (RC) and resulting RCS-chronology is discussed. These factors are: the method of calculating anomalies from the age-trend function, estimation of the true pith offset, the number of series used, species composition, and site characteristics. By applying RCS to a collection of millennium-length tree-ring data sets, the potential and limitations of the RCS method are investigated. RCS is found to be reasonably robust with respect to tested factors, suggesting the method is a suitable tool for preserving low-frequency variance in long tree-ring chronologies.
Article
Tree-ring analysis is often used to assess long-term trends in tree growth. A variety of growth-trend detection methods (GDMs) exist to disentangle age/size trends in growth from long-term growth changes. However, these detrending methods strongly differ in approach, with possible implications for their output. Here we critically evaluate the consistency, sensitivity, reliability and accuracy of four most widely used GDMs: Conservative Detrending applies mathematical functions to correct for decreasing ring-widths with age; Basal Area Correction transforms diameter into basal-area growth; Regional Curve Standardization detrends individual tree-ring series using average age/size trends; and Size Class Isolation calculates growth trends within separate size classes. First, we evaluated whether these GDMs produce consistent results applied to an empirical tree-ring dataset of Melia azedarach, a tropical tree species from Thailand. Three GDMs yielded similar results - a growth decline over time - but the widely used Conservative Detrending method did not detect any change. Second, we assessed the sensitivity (probability of correct growth trend detection), reliability (1- probability of detecting false trends), and accuracy (whether the strength of imposed trends is correctly detected) of these GDMs, by applying them to simulated growth trajectories with different imposed trends: no trend, strong trends (-6% and +6% change per decade), and weak trends (-2%, +2%). All methods except Conservative Detrending, showed high sensitivity, reliability and accuracy to detect strong imposed trends. However, these were considerably lower in the weak or no-trend scenarios. Basal Area Correction showed good sensitivity and accuracy, but low reliability, indicating uncertainty of trend-detection using this method. Our study reveals that the choice of GDM influences results of growth-trend studies. We recommend applying multiple methods when analysing trends and encourage performing sensitivity and reliability analysis. Finally, we recommend Size Class Isolation and Regional Curve Standardization, as these methods showed highest reliability to detect long-term growth trends. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
Tree-ring studies are used today as a method in different research fields. According to the objectives and the underlying hypotheses, each study needs adequate data acquisition and data management and processing within a large choice of available modern techniques. This paper shows, on a conceptual and methodical level, the prerequisites for treering studies, discusses implications for measurements and data processing for most applications encountered and summarises data analysis tools. For educational purpose additional practical hints and some typical literature references of North American and European research are given.
Article
Canopy gaps created by the death of one to a few trees can exert a dominant influence on forest structure and composition by affecting the growth of nearby trees. Previous research in old-growth forests of coastal British Columbia, Canada indicated that most western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.), and Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis Dougl. ex J. Forbes) growing around, or within, 20 natural canopy gaps of known timing of origin experienced a release (i.e., abrupt increase in radial growth) following gap formation. In that study, tree diameter, growth rate prior to a release, species identity, and interactions between some of these variables influenced the duration and magnitude of releases. In this study, we use trees growing along north–south transects that extend through the 20 gaps and into the adjacent forest to clarify the influence of two additional variables on growth releases: tree distance from the gap center and tree north–south position relative to the gap center. For all trees, predicted duration and magnitude of releases showed a decreasing trend with increasing distance from the gap center. Interestingly, the effect of distance on predicted duration of releases was greater for trees north versus south of the gap center, suggesting a response to additional light availability north of the gap center. These findings, combined with those from our previous study, indicate a strong influence of canopy gaps on growth releases of nearby trees of varying sizes and species in our study area, even trees that extend into the surrounding forest matrix. Our results can help inform ecologically sustainable forest management approaches, including variable retention approaches that aim to emulate the fine-scale, low-intensity disturbances that dominate the wetter forests of coastal British Columbia.
Article
This paper describes the construction of an updated gridded climate dataset (referred to as CRU TS3.10) from monthly observations at meteorological stations across the world's land areas. Station anomalies (from 1961 to 1990 means) were interpolated into 0.5° latitude/longitude grid cells covering the global land surface (excluding Antarctica), and combined with an existing climatology to obtain absolute monthly values. The dataset includes six mostly independent climate variables (mean temperature, diurnal temperature range, precipitation, wet-day frequency, vapour pressure and cloud cover). Maximum and minimum temperatures have been arithmetically derived from these. Secondary variables (frost day frequency and potential evapotranspiration) have been estimated from the six primary variables using well-known formulae. Time series for hemispheric averages and 20 large sub-continental scale regions were calculated (for mean, maximum and minimum temperature and precipitation totals) and compared to a number of similar gridded products. The new dataset compares very favourably, with the major deviations mostly in regions and/or time periods with sparser observational data. CRU TS3.10 includes diagnostics associated with each interpolated value that indicates the number of stations used in the interpolation, allowing determination of the reliability of values in an objective way. This gridded product will be publicly available, including the input station series (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/ and http://badc.nerc.ac.uk/data/cru/). © 2013 Royal Meteorological Society
Article
Silver fir is one of the most productive and ecologically valuable native European tree species, however, it has been experiencing decline which has periodically occurred over its natural range. This paper aims to investigate the recent climate-growth relationships of silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) and its temporal change along the course of its life. Long-term tree-ring databases, as well as records on climate, atmospheric SO2, NO3 and acid concentrations from four different regions in the Western Carpathians were used. The results provide clear evidence of significant increase of silver fir's radial increment over the entire Western Carpathian area since 1970-1980. The results indicated that the most probable factors behind the rapid recovery of tree radial increment were reductions in emissions of NO3 and SO2, alongside a significant increase in mean June, July and April temperatures.
Article
Within dry inner Alpine environments climate warming is expected to affect the development of forest ecosystems by changing species composition and inducing shifts in forest distribution. By applying dendroecological techniques we evaluated climate sensitivity of radial growth and establishment of Picea abies in a drought-prone mixed-coniferous forest in the Austrian Alps. Time series of annual increments were developed from > 220 trees and assigned to four age classes. While radial growth of old P. abies trees (mean age 121 and 174 yr) responded highly significant to May-June precipitation, young trees (mean age 28 and 53 yr) were insensitive to precipitation in the current year. Because tree age was closely correlated to height and diameter (r(2) = 0.709 and 0.784, respectively), we relate our findings to the increase in tree size rather than age per se. Synchronicity found among trend in basal area increment and tree establishment suggests that canopy openings increased light and water availability, which favoured growth and establishment of moderately shade-tolerant P. abies. We conclude that although P. abies is able to regenerate at this drought prone site, increasing inter-tree competition for water in dense stands gradually lowers competitive strength and restricts scattered occurrence to dry-mesic sites.