Nussbaumer A, Meusburger K, Schmitt M, Waldner P, Gehrig R, Haeni M, Rigling A, Brunner I, Thimonier A (2020) Extreme summer heat and drought lead to early fruit abortion in European beech. Scientific Reports, 10: 5334. [10.1038/s41598-020-62073-0]


litterfall; mast seeding; drought


Years with high fruit production, known as mast years, are the usual reproduction strategy of European beech. Harsh weather conditions such as frost during flowering can lead to pollination failure in spring. It has been assumed that mast is controlled by flowering, and that after successful pollination, high amounts of fruits and seeds would be produced. However, the extremely hot and dry European summer of 2018 showed that despite successful pollination, beechnuts did not develop or were only abundant in a few forest stands. An in-depth analysis of three forest sites of European beech from the Swiss Long-Term Forest Ecosystem Research Programme over the last 15–19 years revealed for the first time that extreme summer heat and drought can act as an “environmental veto”, leading to early fruit abortion. Within the forest stands in years with fruit abortion, summer mean temperatures were 1.5?°C higher and precipitation sums were 45% lower than the long-term average. Extreme summer heat and drought, together with frost during flowering, are therefore disrupting events of the assumed biennial fruiting cycle in European beech.

LWF Classification

Network: LWF, Sites: Bettlachstock;Lausanne;Schänis, Category: ISI,