European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 137, Issue 3, pp 349–365 | Cite as

Assessing the roles of temperature, carbon inputs and airborne pollen as drivers of fructification in European temperate deciduous forests

  • François Lebourgeois
  • Nicolas Delpierre
  • Eric Dufrêne
  • Sébastien Cecchini
  • Sébastien Macé
  • Luc Croisé
  • Manuel Nicolas
Original Paper


We aimed at identifying which drivers control the spatio-temporal variability of fruit production in three major European temperate deciduous tree species: Quercus robur, Quercus petraea and Fagus sylvatica. We analysed the relations of fruit production with airborne pollen, carbon and water resources and meteorological data in 48 French forests over 14 years (1994–2007). In oak, acorn production was mainly related to temperature conditions during the pollen emission period, supporting the pollen synchrony hypothesis. In beech, a temperature signal over the two previous years eclipsed the airborne pollen load. Fruit production in Quercus and Fagus was related to climate drivers, carbon inputs and airborne pollen through strongly nonlinear, genus-specific relations. Quercus and Fagus also differed as regards the secondary growth versus fructification trade-off. While negative relationships were observed between secondary growth and fruit production in beech, more productive years benefited to both secondary growth and reproductive effort in oak.


Beech Temperate oaks Fructification Gross primary productivity Pollen Temperature Secondary growth 



This paper builds on data gathered over thousands of hours of field and technical work done by: the Office National des Forêts (ONF) foresters, who collected and classified litterfall data; and collaborators of the RNSA network who prepared and analysed pollen observation data. We warmly thank them for their work. We thank Hilaire Martin and Baco Said-Allaoui for their work on early related projects, Sebastien Daviller and Raphaël Aussenac for their helpful technical assistance, and Valentin Journé for pointing papers on the seasonality of fruit production in beech. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments that helped improving the paper.

Author’s contributions

FL, ND and ED designed the research. FL and ND analysed the data and wrote the manuscript, with inputs from ED, SC, SM, LC, and MN collected and prepared the fructification data. FL collected and prepared the ring width and climate data. ND prepared the CASTANEA simulations and the pollen data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10342_2018_1108_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (12 kb)
Online Resource 1 Ecological characteristics of the RENECOFOR network stands (PDF 12 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (51 kb)
Online Resource 2 Climatic characteristics along the longitudinal gradient (PDF 51 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (12 kb)
Online Resource 3 Crown, fruit production and phenology in the RENECOFOR network stands (PDF 12 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (13 kb)
Online Resource 4 Dendrometric characteristics of the RENECOFOR network stands (PDF 12 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (45 kb)
Online Resource 5 Partial dependence plots of the most important variables driving tree-ring width in oak stands (PDF 45 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM6_ESM.pdf (62 kb)
Online Resource 6 Evaluation of the autocorrelation of the fruit (a) and pollen (b) time series (PDF 61 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM7_ESM.pdf (531 kb)
Online Resource 7 Synchrony between stands and changes with distance (PDF 530 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM8_ESM.pdf (13 kb)
Online Resource 8 Mean predicted acorn biomass obtained with the CGPW model versus observed values (PDF 12 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM9_ESM.pdf (13 kb)
Online Resource 9 Mean predicted nut biomass obtained with the CGP* model versus observed values (PDF 12 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM10_ESM.pdf (98 kb)
Online Resource 10 Length of the pollen emission window as related to temperature (PDF 98 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM11_ESM.pdf (55 kb)
Online Resource 11 Percentages of the variance of the fructification datasets explained by statistical models (Figure) (PDF 54 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM12_ESM.pdf (16 kb)
Online Resource 12 Percentages of the variance of the fructification datasets explained by statistical models (Table) (PDF 16 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM13_ESM.pdf (35 kb)
Online Resource 13 Spatial variability of fruit crop in a temperate oak forest (FR-Fon, ICOS research station, (PDF 34 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM14_ESM.pdf (29 kb)
Online Resource 14 Partial dependence plots of the seven best significant predictors of fruit biomass for the 5 beech stands with tree-ring width data (PDF 29 kb)
10342_2018_1108_MOESM15_ESM.pdf (48 kb)
Online Resource 15 Minimal depth variable interactions (PDF 47 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AgroParisTech, INRA, UMR SilvaUniversité de LorraineNancyFrance
  2. 2.Écologie Systématique Évolution, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTechUniversité Paris-SaclayOrsayFrance
  3. 3.Département recherche, développement, innovationOffice National des Forêts, Direction forêts et risques naturelsFontainebleauFrance

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