|Goisser, M; Zang, U; Matzner, E; Borken, W; Häberle, KH; Matyssek, R: Growth of juvenile beech (Fagus syvatica L.) upon transplant into a wind-opened spruce stand of heterogenous light and water conditions, Forest Ecology and Management, 310, 110-119 (2013), doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2013.08.006|
Climate models predict increasing frequency and intensity of summer drought events for Central Europe. In a field experiment, we investigated the response of young beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) to extreme and repeated summer drought and the modulation of drought response patterns along the natural gradient of light availability at the study site. In autumn 2008, two-year-old, nursery derived beech – as used for forest conversion practices – was planted under a Norway spruce stand primarily opened through winter storm. Precipitation was manipulated in the growing seasons of 2009 through 2011, inducing a pronounced gradient of water availability. Individual drought-stress doses (DSD) and light doses (LD) were calculated for each beech sapling during the three growing seasons. Plant growth, CO2-assimilation rate and stomatal conductance were reduced with increasing drought stress, but facilitated by increasing light availability. Progressive acclimation to water and light limitation during the three years of the experiment led to a decreased drought and shade sensitivity of diameter growth. Water-use efficiency, root/shoot ratio and rooting depth, were increased with decreasing water availability. Mean fine root diameter and specific fine root length correlated positively with both DSD and LD. Proceeding low-light acclimation was indicated by progressively increasing specific leaf area and reduced leaf dark-respiration. Present results suggest that nursery-induced high-light acclimation of the beech saplings, exacerbated light limitation upon transplant and hence productivity decline under co-occurring water limitation.