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Oriental beech (Fagus orientalis) for assisted migration? Assessing its drought tolerance in old plantations of Germany, France and Switzerland

 

With the projected increase in droughts, forest management is increasingly faced with the challenge of maintaining the ecosystem services forests provide. Oriental beech (Fagus orientalis) has been proposed for assisted migration to replace drought-sensitive European beech (F. sylvatica) at critical sites, however, it is unknown if its drought tolerance is indeed superior. In this project, we assess the drought response of the two species across different life stages by taking advantage of existing Oriental beech plantations surrounded by European beech forest in France, Germany and Switzerland. Using existing and newly generated genetic data, we can confirm the species identity and/or hybrid status of individuals. We will analyze tree-rings to compare growth patterns and wood density profiles of the two species before, during and after past droughts at five sites. We will replant seedlings of known genotypes and follow their growth and physiological response.