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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Timing and duration of drought modulate tree growth response in pure and mixed stands of Scots pine and Norway spruce

Aldea, Jorge; Ruiz-Peinado, Ricardo; del Rio, Miren; Pretzsch, Hans; Heym, Michael; Brazaitis, Gediminas; Jansons, Aris; Metslaid, Marek; Barbeito, Ignacio; Bielak, Kamil; Hylen, Gro; Holm, Stig-Olof; Nothdurft, Arne; Sitko, Roman; Lof, Magnus


Climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of droughts around the globe, leading to tree mortality that reduces production and provision of other ecosystem services. Recent studies show that growth of mixed stands may be more resilient to drought than pure stands. The two most economically important and widely distributed tree species in Europe are Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), but little is known about their susceptibility to drought when coexist. This paper analyses the resilience (resistance, recovery rate and recovery time) at individual-tree level using a network of tree-ring collections from 22 sites along a climatic gradient from central Europe to Scandinavia. We aimed to identify differences in growth following drought between the two species and between mixed and pure stands, and how environmental variables (climate, topography and site location) and tree characteristics influence them. We found that both the timing and duration of drought drive the different responses between species and compositions. Norway spruce showed higher vulnerability to summer drought, with both lower resistance and a longer recovery time than Scots pine. Mixtures provided higher drought resistance for both species compared to pure stands, but the benefit decreases with the duration of the drought. Especially climate sensitive and old trees in climatically marginal sites were more affected by drought stress. Synthesis. Promoting Scots pine and mixed forests is a promising strategy for adapting European forests to climate change. However, if future droughts become longer, the advantage of mixed stands could disappear which would be especially negative for Norway spruce.


drought period; drought resilience; forest adaptation; mixing effect; tree-ring data

Published in

Journal of Ecology
2022, volume: 110, number: 11, pages: 2673-2683
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Ruiz-Peinado, Ricardo
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC)
Ruiz-Peinado, Ricardo
Universidad de Valladolid
del Rio, Miren
Universidad de Valladolid
del Rio, Miren
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC)
Pretzsch, Hans
Technical University of Munich
Heym, Michael
Technical University of Munich
Brazaitis, Gediminas
Vytautas Magnus University
Jansons, Aris
Latvian State Forest Research Institute Silava
Metslaid, Marek
Estonian University of Life Sciences
Barbeito, Ignacio
University of British Columbia
Bielak, Kamil
Warsaw University of Life Sciences
Hylen, Gro
Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research
Holm, Stig-Olof
Umea University
Nothdurft, Arne
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Sitko, Roman
Technical University Zvolen
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

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