Drought modifies tree competitiveness in an oak-beech temperate forest

Drought modifies tree competitiveness in an oak-beech temperate forest


Publication date: 1 December 2018

Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 429

Author(s): Álvaro Rubio-Cuadrado, J. Julio Camarero, Miren del Río, Mariola Sánchez-González, Ricardo Ruiz-Peinado, Andrés Bravo-Oviedo, Luis Gil, Fernando Montes


Over recent decades, forest management in Europe has increasingly moved towards the emulation of natural dynamics. Natural dynamics in beech-oak forests leads to the formation of monospecific beech stands, the oak usually being excluded or restricted to sites with poor growing conditions. However, beech is more vulnerable than oak to drought and high temperatures. In this study, we examine whether climate change could attenuate the dominance of beech and improve the competitive capacity of oak in an old-growth temperate forest located in the “Picos de Europa” National Park, northern Spain. We used a dendroecological approach to reconstruct the competitive capacity of beech and oak and developed a projection for the 21st century based on forecasted climate conditions under three different emission scenarios. Beech is the dominant tree species in the studied forest, where the disturbance regime has favored the replacement of oak by beech. In general oaks are older than beeches and most of the small trees are beeches. Our results show that this substitution process may weaken due to the vulnerability of beech to warmer and drier conditions. Climate change will benefit oak growth over beech over the course of the 21st century, as was observed in the late 20th century. However, the natural gap dynamic benefits beech due to its greater shade-tolerance. Therefore, if the resilience of the ecosystem is to be increased, management strategies favoring oak regeneration are necessary given the better adaptation of oak to climate change.


via ScienceDirect Publication: Forest Ecology and Management https://ift.tt/2zaqiu8

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