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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Experimental evaluation of waterlogging and drought tolerance of essential Prunus species in central Europe

Wistrom, Bjorn; Emilsson, Tobias; Sjoman, Henrik; Levinsson, Anna


Fruit-bearing and flowering minority tree species, such as many species from the Prunus genus, are essential for multiple ecosystem services in the landscape. Although common, but never dominating, these minority species are often overlooked compared to commercial timber trees in relation to climate change. Induced stress on trees through climate change in central Europe will not only be caused by drought but also by extreme precipitation and pluvial flooding. This study experimentally address this by testing both waterlogging and drought tolerance in three key species of Prunus for central Europe that naturally span a wide variation of habitat conditions. The selected species Prunus mahaleb, Prunus avium and Prunus padus were subjected to both drought and waterlogging in a greenhouse experiment. Plant functionality in the form of midday leaf water potential, stomatal conductance and turgor loss point together with different aspects of biomass allocation and growth was tested. All included species lost their stomatal conductance and leaf water potential within a few days in the waterlogging treatment. Only P. padus had the capacity to recover with new leaves after the waterlogging ended, suggesting that avoidance strategies though leaf shedding can be a complementary mechanism to withstand waterlogging. P. padus kept its stomatal conductance and water potential for the longest time in the drought treatment followed by P. mahaleb and P.avium. This longevity in the drought treatment for P. padus could be explained by both tolerance strategies through lower turgor loss point, but also avoidance strategies with fast changes in growth and higher allocation of biomass to the roots. There is a clear risk that ecosystem service from Prunus species in the landscape can be negatively affected not only by drought but also by increased events of waterlogging. This highlights the need for including minority species and also other climate stressors in addition to drought in the planning and management of multifunctional landscapes.


Minority species; Climate change; Ecosystem services; Water potential; Stomatal conductance; Species selection

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2023, Volume: 537, article number: 120904
Publisher: ELSEVIER