Vitasse Y, Bottero A, Cailleret M, Bigler C, Fonti P, Gessler A, Lévesque M, Rohner B, Weber P, Rigling A, Wohlgemuth T (2019) Contrasting resistance and resilience to extreme drought and late spring frost in five major European tree species. Global Change Biology, 25 (11): 3781-3792. [10.1111/gcb.14803]


climate warming;climatic water balance;dendrochronology;extreme climatic events;frost risk;growing degree-days;tree phenology;tree-ring width


Abstract Extreme climate events (ECEs) such as severe droughts, heat waves, and late spring frosts are rare but exert a paramount role in shaping tree species distributions. The frequency of such ECEs is expected to increase with climate warming, threatening the sustainability of temperate forests. Here, we analyzed 2,844 tree-ring width series of five dominant European tree species from 104 Swiss sites ranging from 400 to 2,200 m a.s.l. for the period 1930?2016. We found that (a) the broadleaved oak and beech are sensitive to late frosts that strongly reduce current year growth; however, tree growth is highly resilient and fully recovers within 2 years; (b) radial growth of the conifers larch and spruce is strongly and enduringly reduced by spring droughts?these species are the least resistant and resilient to droughts; (c) oak, silver fir, and to a lower extent beech, show higher resistance and resilience to spring droughts and seem therefore better adapted to the future climate. Our results allow a robust comparison of the tree growth responses to drought and spring frost across large climatic gradients and provide striking evidence that the growth of some of the most abundant and economically important European tree species will be increasingly limited by climate warming. These results could serve for supporting species selection to maintain the sustainability of forest ecosystem services under the expected increase in ECEs.

LWF Classification

Network: LWF;phenology, Sites: Neunkirch;Othmarsingen;Vordemwald, Category: ISI,