Thiel, D; Kreyling, J; Backhaus, S; Beierkuhnlein, C; Buhk, C; Egen, K; Huber, G; Konnert, M; Nagy, L; Jentsch, A: Different reactions of central and marginal provenances of Fagus sylvatica to experimental drought, European Journal of Forest Research , 133(2), 247-260 (2014), doi:10.1007/s10342-013-0750-x

Climate extremes are expected to increase in frequency and magnitude as a consequence of global warming, threatening the functioning, services and goods of forest ecosystems. Across Europe, the ecologically and economically important tree species Fagus sylvatica is expected to suffer particularly under such conditions. The regional introduction of provenances from drier and warmer climates is one option to adapt beech forest ecosystems to these adverse effects of climate change. Marginal populations from the drought-prone southern and north-eastern edges of the species' distribution come into focus in search of suitable candidates for Central European deciduous forests. Here, we test three marginal provenances (Spain, Bulgaria and Poland) and three provenances from the centre of the distribution range (Germany) for their response to drought in two different soil types (sand, loam) in a full-factorial common-garden experiment in Landau, Germany. Drought impacted all growth parameters negatively (leaf damage +22% (percentage points), height -40% and diameter increment -41%) and the sandy substrate exacerbated this effect. However, provenances differed in their response to drought and soil type. Evidence for a local adaptation to summer drought was detected, especially in terms of mortality rates. The Bulgarian and Spanish provenance showed a stable performance under drought conditions (BG -27% in diameter increment; ES - 32%), compared to the Polish (-48%) or the most sensitive German provenances (- 57%), yet for Bulgaria on a low level of total increment. This may indicate a trade-off between drought-tolerance and growth. Therefore, a sole focus on drought-resistant marginal provenances seems to not be conducive, as they might be less adapted to other climatic factors, e.g. frost, as well. However, intermixed with local Central European provenances these may act as functional insurance in future drought-prone forest stands.

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