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Growing season and radial growth predicted for Fagus sylvatica under climate change

Abstract

Climate scenarios for Slovenia suggest an increase in the mean annual temperature by 2 °C over the next six decades, associated with changes in the seasonal distribution of precipitation. European beech is an ecologically and economically important forest species in Europe, so it is important to understand the influence of changing conditions on its phenology and productivity for the upcoming years. We hypothesise that the ongoing warming and reduction in precipitation during the growing season will shorten the period of xylem development, thus limiting beech growth in the next decades. Xylem formation was monitored weekly from 2008 to 2016 at two sites in Slovenia. Onset and cessation of cell enlargement and secondary wall formation, as well as xylem growth, are used to evaluate climate-growth relationships by means of partial least squares regression and to predict xylem formation phenology and annual xylem increments under climate change scenarios. A positive correlation of spring phenological phases with March–May temperatures is found. In contrast, autumn phenological phases show a negative correlation with August and September temperatures, while high temperatures at the beginning of the year delay growth cessation. According to the selected climate change scenarios, phenological phases may advance by 2 days decade-1 in spring and delay by 1.5 days decade-1 in autumn. The duration of the growing season may increase by 20 days over the next six decades, resulting in 38 to 83% wider xylem increments. The growth of beech is expected to increase under a warming climate in the sites characterised by abundant water availability.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS), young researchers’ program (Peter Prislan), programs P4-0015 and P4-0107, projects V4-1419 and Z4-7318 and by the 7th FP Infrastructures Project EUFORINNO (REGPOT No. 31598), by the Spanish Science and Innovation Ministry (MICINN), the ELENA program (CGL2012-31668) and by the ERASMUS bilateral agreement between the University of Ljubljana and the University of Alicante. Cooperation with Université du Québec à Chicoutimi was enabled by Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et Technologies (FRQNT) within a short-term research scholarship received by P. Prislan. The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of Marko Beber and the Slovenian Forest Service, Milko Detmar and Metropolitana d.o.o., as well as Luka Krže and Dr. Angela Balzano for their support with the laboratory and field work. We thank Martin Cregeen for language editing.

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Prislan, P., Gričar, J., Čufar, K. et al. Growing season and radial growth predicted for Fagus sylvatica under climate change. Climatic Change 153, 181–197 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02374-0

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