Stand- and tree-level determinants of the drought response of Scots pine radial growth

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Characterizing the responses of key tree species to extreme climatic events may provide important information for predicting future forest responses to increased climatic variability. Here we aimed at determining which tree- and stand-level attributes were more closely associated with the effect of a severe drought on the radial growth of Scots pine, both in terms of immediate impact and recovery after the drought event. Our dataset included tree-ring series from 393 plots located close to the dry limit of the species range. Time series analysis and mixed-effects models were used to study the growth of each tree and its detailed response to a severe drought event that occurred in 1986. Our results showed that the radial growth responses of Scots pine were determined primarily by tree-level characteristics, such as age and previous growth rate, and secondarily by stand basal area and species richness, whereas local climate had a relatively minor effect. Fast-growing trees were more severely affected by the drought and retained proportionally lower growth rates up to three years after the episode. In absolute terms, however, fast-growing trees performed better both during and after the event. Older trees were found to be less resilient to drought. The effect of stand basal area and species richness indicated that competition for resources worsened the effects of drought, and suggested that the effect of interspecific competition may be particularly detrimental during the drought year. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-888
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • Extreme events
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Resilience
  • Resistance
  • Tree rings


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