Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Similar patterns of background mortality across Europe are mostly driven by drought in European beech and a combination of drought and competition in Scots pine

Archambeau, Juliette; Ruiz-Benito, Paloma; Ratcliffe, Sophia; Frejaville, Thibaut; Changenet, Alexandre; Muñoz Castañeda, Jose M; Lehtonen, Aleksi; Dahlgren, Jonas; Zavala, Miguel A.; Benito Garzon, Marta


Background tree mortality is a complex demographic process that affects structure and long-term forest dy-namics. Here we investigated how climatic drought intensity interacts with interspecific and intraspecificcompetition (or facilitation) in shaping mortality patterns across tree species ranges. To this aim, we used datafromfive European national forest inventories to perform logistic regression models based on individual treemortality in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestrisL.) and European beech (Fagus sylvaticaL.). We computed the relativeimportance of climatic drought intensity, basal area of conspecific and heterospecific trees (proxy of indirectintra- and interspecific competition or facilitation) and the effects of their interactions on mortality along theentire European latitudinal gradient of both species range. Increase in climatic drought intensity over the studyperiod was associated with higher mortality rates in both species. Climatic drought intensity was the mostimportant driver of beech mortality at almost all latitudes while Scots pine mortality was mainly driven by basalarea. High conspecific basal area was associated with high mortality rates in both species while high hetero-specific basal area was correlated with mortality rates that were high in Scots pine but low in beech. Overall,beech mortality was directly affected by climatic drought intensity while Scots pine mortality was indirectlyaffected by climatic drought intensity through interactions with basal area. Despite their different sensitivity todrought and basal area, the highest predicted mortality rates for both species were at the ecotone between thecool temperate and Mediterranean biomes, which can be explained by the combined effect of climatic droughtintensity and competition. In the context of global warming, which is expected to be particularly strong in theMediterranean biome, our results suggest that populations at the southern limit of species ranges may experienceincreased mortality rates in the near future.


Tree mortality; Drought intensity; European latitudinal gradient; National forest inventories; Fagus sylvatica; Pinus sylvestris

Published in

Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
2020, Volume: 280, article number: 107772

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science
    Climate Research

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)