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Forest under pressure: the need to understand causes and mechanisms related to forest vulnerability and dieback phenomena

The majority of world forest ecosystems are subject to a number of natural disturbances (e.g. wildfires, pests, diseases, adverse weather events). These can severely affect their health and vitality by causing tree mortality or by reducing their ability to provide the full range of goods and services. Understanding and quantifying forest vulnerability to such disturbances and the underlying driving mechanisms is crucial to assess climate impacts and develop effective adaptation strategies.
This session will cover aspects ranging from observed and projected climate change to consequences for forest ecosystems and forest assessment, spanning a range of scales and conditions. In particular, we welcome submissions on the following subjects:
• Forest mortality and die-back phenomena under global warming.
• Evaluation of the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on forest health and growth.
• Vulnerability of old-growth forests and mountainous forest ecosystems to climate change.
• Multidisciplinary approaches towards monitoring and modelling tree vulnerability at the local, regional and global scale.
• Estimation of resistance, resilience and recovery of forests in drought-prone areas.
• Interdisciplinary forestry research covering not only ecological but also economic and social aspects.
• Effects of forestry practices on forest health and vulnerability.
• Methods and tools for decision support and adaptation support in the forestry sector.
• Modelling growth at different scales: wood, tree, forest.

Convener: Francesco Ripullone | Co-conveners: Giovanna Battipaglia, Tamir Klein, Michele ColengeloECSECS
| Mon, 23 May, 08:30–11:50 (CEST)
Room 2.15

Mon, 23 May, 08:30–10:00

Chairpersons: Francesco Ripullone, Michele Colengelo


Amy M Trowbridge et al.

Genetics, in concert with environmental factors, affect plant chemical defenses, and thereby plant susceptibility to pests, pathogens, and ultimately mortality. Plant resource allocation strategies in response to stress play important roles in balancing trade-offs and coordinating non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) investment between critical functions such as growth, storage, and chemical defense. Yet stress-induced growth-storage-defense (GSD) dynamics and their consequences for tree function in situ in the face of severe insect defoliation events are lacking. While vegetation model simulations have suggested that incorporating these dynamics will vastly impact our ability to predict outbreak “hotspots” and ultimately outbreak trajectories, we lack sufficient empirical studies describing herbivore-induced GSD relationships. Improving our predictive capabilities of tree-insect dynamics at the landscape level requires accurate quantification of plant defense dynamics in relationship to growth and storage, which can be accomplished using image spectroscopy.

To gain a more robust understanding of genetically-driven variation in NSC-chemical defense relationships—and the link to susceptibility or resilience in the face of invasive insect outbreak events—we leveraged a current Lymantria dispar outbreak occurring in an aspen (Populus tremuloides) common garden in Arlington, Wisconsin, USA comprised of 519 genotypes collected along a latitudinal gradient across Wisconsin. We measured shifts in the metabolome of targeted genotypes with known dissimilarity in phenolic glycosides and condensed tannin concentrations, the former being biologically active in defense against L. dispar. Targeted and untargeted metabolomics were used to assess shifts in leaf chemistry throughout the outbreak and whole-tree NSCs were measured concurrently. To evaluate the utility of imaging spectroscopy to quantify stress-induced chemical variation, remote sensing data were acquired concurrently using airborne and UAV-based HySpex and LiDAR sensors along with leaf-level reflectance measurements.

During the 2021 growing season, hyperspectral imagery shows distinct changes in foliar traits spatially and among genotypes over the course of the defoliation and during foliar reflush. LiDAR data illustrate discontinuous temporal patterns of defoliation during the event, likely due to spatial patterns of egg mass distribution rather than differences among genotypes. The leaf spectral dissimilarity analysis across all bands shows greater spectral variation among genotypes after defoliation than before defoliation. However, untargeted metabolomics indicates that leaf phytochemical profiles are more homogeneous following the outbreak, largely due to the enhanced production of phenolic glycosides. This suggests that other primary metabolites may be responsible for explaining a higher proportion of the spectral variation. Analysis of NSC dynamics is ongoing, but we expect to see differential shifts in tissue-specific NSC pools (specifically, starch) in response to herbivory, which are likely to be related to foliar defensive chemistry both prior to and following the defoliation event.

How to cite: Trowbridge, A. M., Dao, P. D., Hills, W. B., Friedman, M. S., Oliveira, C., Zierdan, M., Lindroth, R. L., and Townsend, P. A.: Using image spectroscopy to assess the genetic and environmental controls governing tree chemical defense responses to an irruptive herbivore, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-10182, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-10182, 2022.

Martin D. Venturas et al.

Modeling forest drought-induced mortality is critical for predicting the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, natural resources, and global carbon- and water-cycles. The incorporation of mechanistic representations of how water moves through plants (i.e., plant hydraulics) in vegetation, land surface, and Earth system models has enabled estimating the degree of vascular damage that plants experience due to drought stress, with the possibility of mechanistically relating vascular stress to plant mortality. We used forest inventory data and a plant hydraulics model for predicting forest mortality across Western United States. We found that incorporating plant hydraulic model outputs of vascular damage and photosynthetic assimilation in generalized linear models and random forest models improved forest mortality predictions. Nevertheless, the variance explained by these models was relatively low. We use this study to highlight which are the challenges for predicting forest drought-induced mortality at landscape scales. We also propose future research lines that will help close existing knowledge gaps and improve mortality predictions.

How to cite: Venturas, M. D., Anderegg, W. R. L., Trugman, A. T., López, R., and Gil, L.: The challenges of predicting drought-induced forest mortality using plant hydraulic models, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-7688, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-7688, 2022.

Jan-Peter George et al.

European forests are an important source for timber production, human welfare, income, protection and biodiversity. During the last two decades, Europe has experienced a number of droughts which were exceptionally within the last 500 years both in terms of duration and intensity and these droughts seem to left remarkable imprints in the mortality dynamics of European forests. However, systematic observations on tree decline with emphasis on single species together with high-resolution drought data has been scarce so far so that deeper insights into mortality dynamics and drought occurrence is still limiting our understanding at continental scale.

Here we make use of the ICP Forest crown defoliation dataset, permitting us to retrospectively monitor tree mortality for four major conifers, two major broadleaves as well as a pooled dataset of nearly all minor tree species in Europe. In total, we analysed more than 3 million observations gathered during the last 25 years and employed a high-resolution drought index which is able to assess soil moisture anomaly based on a hydrological water-balance and runoff model every ten days across the continent.

We found significant overall and species-specific increasing trends in mortality rates accompanied by decreasing soil moisture. In particular, previous-year soil moisture anomaly had a stronger influence on mortality rates than current-year soil moisture, suggesting that legacy effects (either physiological or caused by secondary biotic agents) play a keyrole in actual forest decline. Remarkable peaks in mortality occurred simultaneously in Norway spruce and Scots pine (2004, 2018, 2019), but were largely asynchronous in broadleaves. Mortality rates in Norway spruce and Scots pine have increased by 60% and 40%, respectively (period 2010-2020 compared to 1995-2009). Oak (Quercus robur and petraea) as well as Silver-fir (Abies alba) showed much lower mortality and only a weak upward trend.

We conclude that mortality patterns in European forests are currently reaching a concerning upward trend which could be further accelerated by future global change-type droughts.

How to cite: George, J.-P., Lang, M., Neumann, M., Sanders, T., Cammalleri, C., and Vogt, J.: Are European forests currently experiencing a shift in climate-related mortality? A retrospective analysis across the last 25 years., EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1071, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-1071, 2022.

Benjamin F. Meyer et al.

Forest ecosystems are known to be paramount in maintaining the terrestrial carbon sink by storing nearly half of all terrestrial carbon, with European beech dominating these ecosystems across many parts of Europe. As such, the state of the carbon sink is mediated to a large degree by the productivity of European beech forests. Dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) can be useful tools to explore changes in forest productivity caused by climate extremes. However, DGVMs often lack implementation of processes pertaining to specific extremes, such as spring late-frost.
Though counterintuitive, temperature increases associated with climate change may exacerbate spring late-frost risk in European beech. Defoliation from late-frost can have detrimental effects on forest productivity. Affected trees lose the ability to effectively perform photosynthesis until the canopy is regrown and must also rely on the expenditure of stored carbohydrate reserves to do so. Consequently, late-frost events often result in stark reductions of secondary growth in affected trees. This effect has been widely observed, primarily through tree rings. Tree rings provide a localized, retrospective examination of secondary tree growth in response to frost events, yet they do not allow for quantification of subsequent changes in tree productivity over larger areas let alone for future scenarios.
We bridge this gap by using a network of tree ring data covering past frost events in conjunction with a new version of the DGVM LPJ-GUESS which has been expanded to include representation of late-frost events. The tree ring data covers 30 sites across Bavaria and includes four separate, past late-frost events for which varying degrees of late-frost damage have been previously documented. Using historical climate data (LFU BayObs 5km x 5km spatial resolution) we run simulations at each of the tree ring sites to reproduce the observed data. Subsequently, we run simulations with two versions of LPJ-GUESS, one including the new late-frost module and one without, to directly quantify the changes in tree productivity (NPP) as a result of spring-late frost. Lastly, we force LPJ-GUESS using climate projections to examine how spring late-frost will govern European beech forest productivity under different future scenarios.
Our findings indicate that (1) we are able to accurately reproduce observed late-frost events using the new, late-frost capable version of LPJ-GUESS, (2) spring late-frost events alter productivity dynamics across geographic and climatic regions, and (3) will continue to play a role to varying degrees under different future climate scenarios.

How to cite: Meyer, B. F., Buras, A., Principe, A., Kreyling, J., Rammig, A., and Zang, C. S.: Modeling changes in European beech productivity precipitated by spring late-frost, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-11957, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-11957, 2022.

Jordi Margalef-Marrase et al.

In recent decades, die-off events in Pinus sylvestris populations have been on the rise. The causes of these phenomena, which are usually related to local and regional extreme hot droughts, have been extensively investigated from a physiological viewpoint. However, the consequences of the die-off process in terms of demography and vegetation dynamics have been less thoroughly addressed. Here, we projected P. sylvestris plot dynamics after a die-off event, under climate change scenarios, considering also their early stages (i.e., seedlings, saplings and ingrowth from the sapling to adult class), to assess the resilience of P. sylvestris populations after such events. We used IPM methodologies to project future plot structure under three climate scenarios (current climate, RCP4.5 and RCP8.0 projections), using climatic suitability – extracted from Species Distribution Models – as a covariable in the vital rates over time. Field data feeding IPM were obtained from two successive surveys, at the end of the die-off event (2013) and four years later (2017), undertaken on populations situated across the P. sylvestris range of distribution in Catalonia (NE Spain). Plots affected by die-off experienced a loss of large trees, which results in their basal area, tree diameter and tree density remaining lower than those of unaffected plots for decades. This situation is partially counterbalanced after the event in affected plots by a greater increase in the basal area and in seedling recruitment into the tree stage, thus promoting resilience. However, resilience is delayed under the climate-change scenarios with warmer and drier conditions involving additional physiological stress, due to a reduced abundance of seedlings and a smaller plot basal area. Overall, the study shows the lagged effect of drought-induced die-off events on forest structure and reveals stabilizing mechanisms which enhance resilience, such as recruitment and tree growth release. These mechanisms are apparently jeopardized, however, by regional warming.

How to cite: Margalef-Marrase, J., Molowny-Horas, R., Jaime, L., and Lloret, F.: Modelling the dynamics of Pinus sylvestris forests after a die-off event under climate change scenarios, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8770, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-8770, 2022.

Mauro Hermann et al.

Productivity of Europe’s temperate forest regions is strongly influenced by meteorological conditions and their interannual variability, including seasonal variations of temperature (T2m) and precipitation (P) and short-term extreme events. Understanding the occurrence of individual events of reduced forest productivity therefore requires knowledge at the interface of atmospheric science and forest ecology. While numerous recent studies focused on the forest ecosystem perspective of such events, the preceding evolution of basic meteorological parameters such as T2m and P has not yet been analyzed systematically. The purpose of this study is thus to provide an atmospheric science perspective on such events in Europe in 2000–2020. To this end, we examine the meteorological evolution in the year prior to events of reduced forest productivity in June–August (JJA), by considering the trajectory of normalized 90-day T2m and P anomalies from the ERA5 reanalysis in their phase space. The events have been identified based on normalized difference vegetation index anomalies (NDVI') at 0.05° resolution. Furthermore, a pragmatic approach is developed to coarse-grain the events to the 0.5° scale of ERA5.

From a set of event characteristics we identify different event types. One event type (Fdrop) is found to feature a pronounced NDVI' drop over JJA, while a second type (Flow) exhibits consistently negative NDVI'  throughout JJA. Well-known forest damage occurrences are identified as Fdrop events, e.g., in the Balkans in 2000, in central Europe in 2003, and in northern Europe in 2018. Wide-spread Flow events are identified for the first time in 2014. They occur most prominently in 2019 and 2020 in regions already affected by Fdrop events in 2018. The multi-seasonal meteorological history of Fdrop events in the T2m–P phase space is characterized by exceptionally dry conditions already in the early growing season and increasingly warm summer conditions. In some contrast, Flow events emerge after two consecutively hot-dry summers. During these events, anomalies of T2m and P are less extreme than during Fdrop events, suggesting the involvement of forest legacy and secondary disturbances (e.g., fire, insects).

In future work, we will validate the reduced forest productivity events with already existing datasets of forest disturbances in Europe and expand the analysis of these events’ meteorological history more quantitatively. Also, we aim at further refining the event classification according to the spatiotemporal variability of their meteorological history to better understand the meteorological impact on forest productivity in Europe.

How to cite: Hermann, M., Röthlisberger, M., Rigling, A., Wohlgemuth, T., Gessler, A., and Wernli, H.: Analysis of multi-seasonal meteorological pathways to reduced forest NDVI in Europe in 2000–2020 , EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1597, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-1597, 2022.

Maria Castellaneta et al.

Increasing aridity, primarily driven by higher temperatures and lower precipitation, will threaten the stability and health status of Mediterranean forest ecosystems. Vegetation phenology has been globally acknowledged as a key tool to track the timing of seasonal plant and animal activities as well as changes in the forest ecosystems in response to climate change. In this study, we sought to address the phenological behavior of Mediterranean forest stands exhibiting evident decline symptoms. We investigated how phenological and productive indices for Quercus cerris, Quercus pubescens, and Quercus frainetto stands would be able to reflect the seasonal vegetative dynamics of forests affected by dieback, through a multi-scale and multi-temporal approach. To this, we compared nearby stands showing different vigor, i.e., dieback vs non-dieback, assessed as growths decline, elevated crown transparency, and rising tree mortality rate. For this purpose, phenological metrics of greenness (NDVI, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and phenological (PPI, Plant Phenology Index) spectral indices were derived from either MODIS Terra and Aqua or Sentinel 2 satellites. Our results indicated peculiar site-specific phenological patterns. We observed that dieback forest stands - characterized by a high percentage of trees showing canopy defoliation - exhibited different phenological behavior compared with non-dieback stands. Shifts in length of growing season and seasonal amplitude among dieback and non-dieback stands occurred, that probably affect seasonal productivity. Furthermore, climatic fluctuations may have also affected such phenological patterns. Aligning proxies for the phenological and productive status of forest vegetation may improve our understanding of the responses of dieback forests to the changing climate, mainly in the Mediterranean region.

How to cite: Castellaneta, M., Rita, A., Borghetti, M., and Ripullone, F.: Evaluation of canopy cover dynamics using phenological and productivity indices: the case of Mediterranean oak forests affected by dieback, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9370, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-9370, 2022.

Kana Kamimura et al.

Climate change will alter the characteristics of tropical cyclones such as their intensity, trajectory, and frequency, which will lead to more forest damage not only in the current tropical cyclone affected regions but also in the regions where the trees are not acclimated to tropical cyclones. How can we reduce the increasing damage risk to forests due to these changes in tropical cyclones? Do forestry practices help to improve the resilience of forests to strong wind? In this paper, we present our 2-year observations of tree dynamic behavior in planted coniferous forests. This 2-year period included three forest management and weather related interventions to the forests: thinning, clear-cutting (creating a new-edge), and damage by a category-5 tropical cyclone.

In November 2017, we created two research plots in a research compartment consisting of genetically identical Cryptomeria japonica trees (full-siblings). One plot was a control, which did not receive any thinning following planting in 2005 (1.8 m between tree spacing; named as the P-100 plot); another was thinned with 50% tree removal in 2017 (3.6 m mean between tree spacing, named as the P-50 plot). We harvested the trees next to the P-50 plot (in the easterly direction), which created a new edge for the P-50 plot. To observe tree displacements, we attached two strain gauge transducers at the tree bases in the north and east directions, and one inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor at the 6 m height on the tree stem. An ultrasonic anemometer was installed between the two plots and a 3-cup anemometer was installed outside the compartment.

In 2018, a category-5 tropical cyclone (super typhoon Trami) landed in Japan and damaged some of the trees in our plots. Interestingly, we found damaged trees only in the P-50 plot, which suggests that the forestry activities such as thinning might lead to changes in tree stability against strong wind. Our analysis confirmed that the tree and forest “stiffness” required to resist the strong winds during tropical cyclones is highly dependent on how much support individual trees obtain from their neighbors.

We continued measuring the tree displacement in the P-100 plot after the damaging cyclone until November 2019. There was a new forest edge due to the absence of the P-50 plot and windbreak trees that had been cut down after the cyclone. Focusing on one subject tree in the P-100 plot, the frequencies of the first peak normalized power spectral density (NPS) stayed between 0.4 to 0.58 Hz before and during the tropical cyclone; however, the peak NPS became unclear in 2019 (after the cyclone and a new forest edge). The newly created edge seems to alter the manner of the tree sway, leading to more complex displacement, even though support from the neighbors remained the same throughout the 2-year period. This possibly represents an acclimation of the trees to their new wind environment.

How to cite: Kamimura, K., Nanko, K., Matsumoto, A., Ueno, S., Gardiner, J., and Gardiner, B.: Tree dynamic behavior with forestry activities and a category-5 tropical cyclone, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-6892, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-6892, 2022.

Lukasz Pawlik et al.

Climate change will potentially modify wind characteristics related to the passage of extra-tropical cyclones over Europe, and the increasing frequency of strong winds will increase forest damage. Negative impacts will be significantly higher in managed forests. Analyzing data about past forest damage can provide a better understanding of the complex relationship between tree/forest features, wind climate properties, and the rate of forest damage. We present results of forest damage modelling and prediction using machine learning techniques. We applied five machine learning methods to data on the volume (m3) of damaged trees between 2007-2010. In a second step, logistic regression was applied to these data expressed as a rate of damaged forest area. We focus on two case studies: the Sudety Mountains region in SW Poland and the catastrophic damage caused by windstorm Klaus in SW France in 2009. We found that the best predictors of tree damage were tree age and volume, the distance from the windstorm track, the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) and wind exposure. For the second case study, we tested several combinations of data splitting cut-off levels and various definitions of the damage class during the training stage of the modeling. We obtained models' good predictive power (accuracy and AUC > 0.7) for training and test sets in both cases.


The study has been supported by the Polish National Science Centre (project no 2018/28/U/ST10/00075 and 2019/35/O/ST10/00032) and the ERC Advanced Grant (project no 694481).

How to cite: Pawlik, L., Harrison, S., Godziek, J., and Zawolik, L.: Forest damage caused by the impact of strong wind during extra-tropical cyclones – modelling and prediction, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3057, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-3057, 2022.

Linda Lehmanski and Henrik Hartmann

The last decades have been marked by an increase in spruce mortality, partially triggered by the European spruce bark beetle Ips typographus. More frequent extreme weather events presumably prompted by climate change have led to rising stress and susceptibility of trees, a fragility which the bark beetle can exploit for its advantage. One aspect of the beetles’ life cycle that is not fully understood is the selection by pioneer beetles of an appropriate hosts that allows successful infestation. While it is often suggested that volatile or olfactory cues determine the suitability of a tree as host and that beetles generally tend to attack weakened trees, methodological challenges in field studies have so far hampered progress in empirical process understanding. Here we present a methodological approach for quantification and qualification of volatile emissions in situ. The method consists from a mobile GC/MS which is implemented into a stem incubation chamber system. We report preliminary results of in situ assessment of volatile compounds emitted by spruce trees as a first step toward a better understanding in tree-insect interactions.

How to cite: Lehmanski, L. and Hartmann, H.: Volatile emissions in spruce could act as cues for bark beetle host selection, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3988, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-3988, 2022.

Mon, 23 May, 10:20–11:50

Chairpersons: Giovanna Battipaglia, Tamir Klein


Laura Marqués et al.

Changing climatic conditions suggest that forests will be altered at unprecedented rates over the course of this century. In forests experiencing drought-induced dieback, declining trees may exhibit altered climate memory, likely reflecting their lower buffering capacity and shorter leaf lifespan. This study evaluates the effects of past climate conditions on tree growth in forests dominated either by gymnosperms or angiosperms showing different levels of vigor (crown defoliation). We applied the stochastic antecedent modeling (SAM) framework to understand the role of past climate on tree growth in declining and non-declining trees. The model allows us to elucidate the importance of past temperature and precipitation conditions for tree growth and the predisposition for forest dieback. Our results identified lower growth rates, reduced sensitivity to antecedent climate, and shifts in the seasonal importance of climate in declining compared to non-declining trees. We found that declining trees of some tree species were sensitive to recent temperature and precipitation conditions, whilst climatic conditions further into the past were more important for non-declining trees. Both vigor classes were also coupled to climate conditions during markedly different seasons, with dry summer conditions particularly affecting declining trees. Our results point to the importance of climatic sensitivity and memory on growth for understanding and forecasting forest dieback.

How to cite: Marqués, L., Ogle, K., Peltier, D. M. P., and Camarero, J. J.: Differential climate memory drives tree growth in ongoing forest dieback, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-13194, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-13194, 2022.

Àngela Manrique-Alba et al.

Forest management can play an important role in addressing the issue of generalized canopy dieback and increase in tree mortality rates after severe droughts in both plantations and natural stands. In particular, there is interest in establishing the effects of thinning as a strategy to improve growth recovery after drought across tree species and climates. For that reason, we need a robust framework to determine general forest growth and drought resilience changes after thinning, and their temporal legacy. To that end, we designed a regression model to determine differences in radial growth, sensitivity to previous-year growth and drought, and long-term growth trends, as well as individual random variability. Once fitted based on basal area increment records, the model allows simulating post-drought and post-thinning growth trajectories based on the observed parameters. We computed drought resistance, resilience and recovery indices based on these trajectories, obtaining more reliable estimates than computing these indices based on the raw tree-ring records. Moreover, the simulations allowed us to calculate the time to recovery after a drought. We tested this analytical framework on five pine plantations of three species (Pinus halepensis Mill., Pinus nigra Arn. and Pinus sylvestris L.) under different thinning intensities, classified based on the average ranges of basal area removed as moderate (20-35%) and heavy (>35%) thinned. We found that thinning enhanced growth between +85 and +150%, and reduced previous-year growth dependence (between –13 and –26%) and climatic dependence (–23 to –49%). We interpret these effects as a result of competition reduction by thinning and a transitory alleviation of growth climatic constraints, particularly water shortage. Thinning consistently improved drought resistance (+4 to +20%) and resilience (+1 to +4%). Growth recovery, on the contrary, was reduced (–1 to –15%). Since the growth loss during the drought was reduced due to higher drought resistance, the recovery was proportionally lower. Thinning reduced the time to recovery by one to two years, and the thinning legacy effect persisted up to 15 to 20 years after thinning. Taken together, these findings enhance the benefits of adaptive silviculture in making pine plantations less vulnerable to unfavourable extreme climate events such as droughts. We present a novel and robust analytical framework to assess drought-thinning interactive effects on tree growth.

How to cite: Manrique-Alba, À., Beguería, S., and Camarero, J. J.: Forest management effects on post-drought growth resilience: a new analytical framework applied to pine plantations, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4059, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-4059, 2022.

José Grünzweig et al.

Tree mortality in dryland forests is pronounced following extreme drought events. Moreover, long-term monitoring showed that the die-off rate of oaks in a Mediterranean woodland increased exponentially with decreasing annual rain amounts. In forests and woodlands of low water availability, trees are subjected to competition for water, and likely also for nutrients, by neighboring woody and herbaceous vegetation. Increasingly arid conditions induced by a hotter and drier climate intensify the “battle” for resources among plants. Trees might be partly released from competition by nearby vegetation when subjected to livestock grazing, a common forestry practice in many regions worldwide. Grazing not only reduces competing vegetation, but also modifies the chemical and physical soil environment. While the impact of grazing on herbaceous biomass, species composition and diversity has been extensively studied over the past decades, its influence on trees remains largely uncertain. We investigated tree growth, water relations and nutrient status as affected by livestock grazing in semiarid forests and woodlands subjected to extreme seasonal drought conditions. Livestock grazing alleviated drought stress of evergreen oaks (Quercus calliprinos) at the dry edge of their distribution and enhanced their growth 2-3 fold. Oaks in grazed plots showed higher leaf gas exchange and a lower drop in leaf water potential under very dry conditions than oaks in plots from which grazing was prevented. Grazing exclusion also shifted the trees’ water use strategy to be more isohydric. In addition, the size of oaks increased along a gradient of increasing grazing intensity, a gradient which did not include extreme overgrazing intensities. Grazing did not affect tree water relations and even tended to increase drought stress of Pinus halepensis trees in a very dry semiarid forest. Yet, the environmental growing conditions appeared to be improved for pines in grazed compared to pines in non-grazed plots, according to longer needles of trees in grazed plots. Needle length has previously been proven to act as a reliable index of tree health in this species. In a more moist Pinus pinea forest, grazing influenced soil moisture and leaf water potential negatively. However, tree-ring analyses showed a higher growth rate of P. pinea trees in grazed compared to trees in non-grazed plots, which may be related to higher nutrient availability (nitrogen, phosphorus) in soils under grazing. Livestock grazing intends to generate economic revenue and to reduce fire risks in forests. Here we showed that this type of forest management may decrease the vulnerability and potentially increase the resistance and resilience of trees to drought in forests and woodlands subjected to sparse water supply. Consequently, grazing may benefit trees in mesic forests experiencing increasing frequency and severity of extreme droughts and heatwaves.

How to cite: Grünzweig, J., Hasson, O., Burrows, L., Navon, Y., Klein, T., and Osem, Y.: Saving forests from climate change – can livestock grazing reduce the vulnerability of trees to drought?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9367, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-9367, 2022.

Luciana Jaime et al.

Bark beetle infestation is a major causal agent of tree mortality that may be critical for forest persistence under future climates with increased warming and drought episodes. Such persistence, in terms of resistance to bark beetle disturbance, could be determined by the location of host tree populations in the species’ climatic niche space, increasing close to the host climatic optimum and reducing close to the beetle climatic optimum. Therefore, we analyzed the resistance of European coniferous forests to bark beetle attack and its derived tree mortality, using successive censuses of forest damage surveys in relation to the climatic niche characterization of both host tree and bark beetle species. Specifically, we modelled the responses of forest resistance in relation to the distance to the niche optimum of the host tree and beetle species, stand attributes and previous drought characteristics. Regional patterns of recent beetle disturbance evidenced that forests in Central, North, and East of Europe could be at risk under the attack of multivoltine bark beetle species. In addition, we found that forest resistance to beetle attack was determined by several driving factors. The environmental position of the affected forest within the host and beetle species’ climatic niche and the stand attributes mediated the influence of drought on the resistance to beetle attack. In particular, monospecific stands with a high frequency of drought in previous years and located close to both host tree and beetle climatic optimum showed low resistance to beetle attack. In turn, forest resistance to derived tree mortality was exclusively determined by the intensity and duration of previous drought. Once the forest resistance is exceeded to be infested, the mortality of host tree populations may be enhanced with the severity of drought events. These findings revealed that the resistance of European coniferous forests to bark beetle disturbance is modulated by the joint host-insect climatic suitability and by beetle-drought interactions. Moreover, the expected increase of extreme drought events in the coming decades, particularly under the threat of multivoltine bark beetle species activity, may amplify beetle-induced tree mortality threatening forest persistence.

How to cite: Jaime, L., Batllori, E., Ferretti, M., and Lloret, F.: Drivers of forest resistance to bark beetle disturbance in European forests, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4698, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-4698, 2022.

Christopher Leifsson et al.

Extreme drought events will have an increasing influence on forest ecosystems and services in the course of climate change. It is thus pivotal to understand their direct impacts and subsequent recovery patterns. Drought impacts are often reported as changes in net primary productivity (NPP) related to impact severity. However, because NPP integrates over all physiological processes, variability in NPP alone cannot explain internal mechanisms.

Due to temporally variable growing conditions, climate-growth relationships are naturally non-stationary on longer time scale. On shorter time scales, extreme drought events are considerable perturbations that likewise alter the climate sensitivity of growth, corresponding to physiological impacts caused by drought. Therefore, post-drought changes in the climate sensitivity of growth serves as a potential avenue of studying physiological impacts. Decoupled climate-growth relationships would be expected in the case of damage on the hydraulic system or reallocation of carbon to rebuild foliage. Conversely, tightened coupling would be expected in the case of stricter growing conditions as per the law of the minimum or carbon reallocation towards increased xylogenesis. 

Because experimental ecophysiological studies are labour and cost intensive, they are typically limited in space and time. Meanwhile, climate-growth relationships derived from tree-ring widths (as an approximation for variability in NPP) and high-resolution climate products are easily accessible on regional to global scales. By finding common post-drought responses in climate sensitivity of tree-growth for trees grouped by abiotic and biotic factors it is possible to analyse physiological impacts on large scales, thus effectively enhancing our understanding of the underlying mechanisms that result in quantified impacts on NPP.

Here, we aim to find intraspecific differences in post-drought climate-growth relations for the ecologically and economically important European tree species European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). Using a European-wide dataset of tree-ring widths, the European Beech Tree-Ring Network (EBTRN), we compute post-drought changes in climate-growth relationships – climate sensitivity deviations – in addition to direct and lagging impacts on absolute tree-ring derived growth. Preliminary analyses indicate a complex connection between growth recovery rates and diverging post-drought climate sensitivity deviations, in turn shaped by growing condition factors.

How to cite: Leifsson, C., Buras, A., Rammig, A., and Zang, C.: Influence of post-drought climate sensitivity deviations on secondary growth in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9289, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-9289, 2022.

Simon Haberstroh et al.

The impact of various environmental stressors, such as plant invasion and extreme drought is increasing in many ecosystems around the globe. Mediterranean ecosystems have especially been affected by both stressors in recent decades. Thus, we conducted a precipitation and shrub invasion manipulation experiment in a Mediterranean cork oak (Quercus suber L.) ecosystem in Portugal. The impact of both stressors (i.e. drought and invasion) as well as their interaction  on cork oak functioning was investigated, resulting  in four experimental treatments: 1) control trees, 2) trees with a rain exclusion of 45%, 3) trees invaded by the shrub Cistus ladanifer and 4) trees invaded by C. ladanifer combined with rain exclusion. Each of the four treatments was replicated in three spatially separated blocks. In total 36 trees (9 per treatment) and 18 shrubs (9 per treatment) were selected randomly for measurements between October 2017 and March 2020.

Invaded trees, independent of the rain exclusion, had lower leaf area index (LAI) and growth rates (trunk increment). Further changes in the relationship of pre-dawn and midday leaf water potential elucidated that competition by shrubs shifted the hydraulic behaviour of invaded trees to a more anisohydric strategy compared to non-invaded cork oaks during summer drought. These negative impacts of shrub invasion had also an effect on transpiration rates of trees, but the extent was dependent on annual precipitation. In the wet year 2018, transpiration rates of trees in all four treatments were similar due to replenished soil water resources. However, in 2019, when precipitation was strongly reduced (ambient: –25%, rain exclusion: –50%), trees under invasion and rain exclusion reduced their transpiration by 47% compared to control trees, which was stronger than the reduction caused by a single stressor (amplifying interaction). However, shrubs under the rain exclusion also suffered from the extreme drought and were not able to recover in the following autumn/winter period, releasing trees from a strong competition (buffering interaction). On the other hand, shrubs under ambient precipitation were highly competitive in the same recovery period and strongly delayed tree transpiration recovery (–51% compared to control). Consequently, extreme drought and shrub invasion interacted buffering in this recovery period after the extreme drought event. In conclusion, the lessons learned from this manipulation experiment are 1) that shrub invasion has a negative impact on the functioning of cork oak trees and 2) the magnitude of this negative impact is dependent on the predominant environmental conditions (i.e. precipitation amount), which can lead to amplifying, neutral or buffering effects of drought and invasion.

How to cite: Haberstroh, S., Werner, C., Lobo-do-Vale, R., and Caldeira, M. C.: Lessons learned from a combined precipitation and shrub invasion manipulation experiment in a Mediterranean cork oak ecosystem, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8507, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-8507, 2022.

Francesco Niccoli et al.

Forest fires are becoming more intense and recurring due to climate change and are increasingly threatening the integrity and functionality of forests worldwide. Trees’ resilience is closely influenced not only by direct fire damages, but also by pre-existing climate stress conditions, such as high temperatures and water deficit. Fire wounds and extreme climate events can impair plant physiology triggering tree mortality in the medium and long term. Therefore, understanding the links between fire, climate and tree health is essential to anticipate the impacts of global warming and to plan climate-adapted forest management strategies. In this context, our research aims to study the post-fire effects on a Pinus pinaster Aiton forest growing in Vesuvius National Park, a particularly drought prone area in Southern Italy, comparing plants with severe damage to the canopy with non-defoliated trees. We combined inter-annual analyses of dendrochronology, carbon and oxygen isotope composition in tree rings, and intra-annual monitoring of xylogenesis to explore the effects on tree-growth, ecophysiological processes and wood formation dynamics. The tree-ring approach showed that crown damage compromised the photosynthetic activity of burned trees, with a decrease in tree-growth in the medium term compared to control trees. Moreover, the xylogenesis analysis demonstrated a delay in phenology and a lower xylem productivity and plasticity of the defoliated trees, as well as the negative influence of hot and dry months on cambial production. Our findings suggested that although maritime pine can survive severe forest fires in the short term, a severe crown defoliation and prolonged drought conditions can compromise the species' eco-physiological functions reducing the chances to regain the pre-disturbance productivity rates.

How to cite: Niccoli, F., Pacheco-Solana, A., De Micco, V., and Battipaglia, G.: Monitoring wood formation dynamics of Pinus pinaster Aiton in a burned area of Vesuvio National Park, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4485, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-4485, 2022.

Ankit Shekhar et al.

Short drought-intermittent rainfall (SDIR) events, i.e., short rainfall events after long dry spells, typically re-wet top few centimeters of soil layer and often has little impact on the water balance of the ecosystem. Nevertheless, these SDIR events could provide the much-needed short-term water supply during dry spells to the terrestrial ecosystem, especially trees. An efficient use of these SDIR events could provide the trees with a buffer to withstand longer drought conditions, which will become more frequent and intense with the upcoming changes in climate.

This study aims to quantify the tree water use (TWU) recovery in terms of sapflow recovery following SDIR events across multiple global forest sites (35 sites) spanning over 250 site-years. SDIR events are identified probabilistically as rainfall periods (1-2 days with daily rainfall < 75th percentile) occurring after an extreme dry spell (> 90th percentile of dry spell duration) during the growing season. For each tree, TWU recovery (RTWU) is estimated based on percentage increase in sapflow rate after the SDIR event (Sa), compared to before the SDIR event (Sb), and standardized by seasonal maximum sapflow (Smax). The inter-species RTWU and intra-species RTWU relationship with tree allometry (height and diameter) is used to explain the recovery rates. The main hypothesis tested here is that the intra-species differences in RTWU are positively related to tree size due to better root development in larger trees. The understanding of RTWU provides a new axis to understand and predict tree recovery after drought events.

How to cite: Shekhar, A., Paul-Limoges, E., Zweifel, R., Buchmann, N., and Gharun, M.: Tree water-use recovery after drought-intermittent rainfall events, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-10902, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-10902, 2022.

Timon Miesner et al.

The permafrost-underlain deciduous forests of north-east Siberia form a unique ecosystem that is experiencing pressure from global warming, in the form of permafrost thaw, wildfires of increasing intensity and frequency, and drought stress. Even though it covers millions of square kilometers and could become an important driver in the global climate system with the vast amounts of carbon stored in its soil and plants, there is relatively little knowledge on it because of its remoteness.

In a series of expeditions between 2011 and 2021, a consortium of researchers from the North East Federal University Yakutsk (NEFU) and the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) surveyed more than 160 forest sites in Yakutia and at the northern treeline, in Chukotka and the Taymir Peninsula. These include intact larch forest and forest tundra sites, as well as different stages of succession after wildfire disturbance. We observed species, height and vitality status for over 39,000 trees, of which around 2000 were inventorized in a more detailed manner, including diameters and crown diameters.

We will present analyses of individual-based metrics necessary for upscaling the forest inventory to the plot level. Additionally, we compared our ground inventory data with freely available remote sensing products to evaluate their performance in predicting forest structure on the small scale. The comparison yielded large errors, as the forest metrics vary strongly on the local scale, thereby emphasizing the need for ground data like we collected.

This dataset gives a unique insight into the forest structure of this remote area, and can be used for a variety of purposes.

How to cite: Miesner, T., Herzschuh, U., Pestryakova, L. A., Wieczorek, M., Zakharov, E. S., Kolmogorov, A. I., and Kruse, S.: An individual-based tree data set on forest structure in Siberia‘s remote north-east, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-11575, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-11575, 2022.

Nikos Markos et al.

Forest grown in semi-arid regions are facing severe drought limitations, nevertheless they are still a considerable component of the global carbon cycle. Drought limitations on ecosystem carbon fluxes can be caused either by limited soil moisture supply, mainly expressed through the soil water content (SWC), or enhanced atmospheric demand, expressed through the atmospheric VPD. However, these two parameters are generally strongly correlated and the distinguish of their differential effects on ecosystem level processes is difficult. While soil water content is mainly affected by the local precipitation patterns, VPD is strongly affected by the air temperature. Both quantities are expected to alter under the current climate change scenarios, but the rise in temperature is expected to result in amplified increased in VPD. The ability to quantify the differential effects of SWC and VPD on ecosystem productivity is, therefore, critical for making predictions about future forest productivity and survival in the Mediterranean region under the ongoing climate change.

In this study we attempt to make a distinction between the impact of soil moisture and VPD on water limitations on GPP in Aleppo pine forests in Greece and in Israel. For the aim of the study, we performed GPP estimates for two Mediterranean sites in the two study sites that differ in water supply and local VPD. The separation of SWC and VPD limitations was achieved by the use of generalized additive models. Our results indicate that the parameter that dominates drought limitations in Aleppo pine is SWC, while VPD has a secondary and lesser effect.

Aleppo pine is a conifer species representing one of the major components of Mediterranean ecosystems, which is, in turn, one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. The results imply, therefore, that the potentially enhanced increase in VPD, caused by rising temperatures in these regions, is likely to have a limited effect on future carbon fluxes, which will depend more strongly on trends in precipitation pattern.

How to cite: Markos, N., Preisler, Y., Radoglou, K., Rotenberg, E., and Yakir, D.: Comparative study of two Mediterranean pine forests demonstrates a dominant effects of soil moisture supply over atmospheric VPD in influencing gross primary productivity, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-12118, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-12118, 2022.

Kyohsuke Hikino et al.

Forest ecosystems have been globally experiencing drought events with increasing duration and frequency in the last decades. Under these circumstances, perennial trees must adjust to long-term water-limiting conditions for their survival. However, the acclimation ability of mature trees is still poorly understood.

This contribution presents observations from a 5-year summer throughfall-exclusion experiment on mature European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) in southern Germany (Kranzberg forest roof experiment (KROOF)). Precipitation throughfall was completely excluded from spring to late fall (i.e. March to November) between 2014 and 2018.

In the first two drought years, predawn leaf water potential of both species significantly decreased as low as -1.8 MPa, leading to a significant reduction in CO2 assimilation rates and stomatal conductance, in particular in spruce with a reduction of up to 85% compared to controls. However, although the soil water content was similar throughout the measurement periods, this decrease in predawn leaf water potential was diminished in the fourth and fifth year of the drought treatment, leading to a parallel increase in leaf photosynthesis. Especially, CO2 assimilation rates and stomatal conductance of beech that were reduced by 40% in the second and third drought year, showed similar values to the controls in the fourth and fifth drought year.

Thus, both species seem to have ability to attenuate water stress under long-term drought. While drought-stressed spruce trees significantly reduced their total leaf area two years after the start of the drought treatment, leading to more available water per leaf area, beech trees seem to have maintained their total leaf area even under long-term drought. These observed drought responses and acclimation strategies of both species are discussed taking belowground perspectives into account.

How to cite: Hikino, K., Gebhardt, T., Hesse, B. D., Hafner, B. D., Häberle, K.-H., and Grams, T. E. E.: Acclimation of leaf photosynthesis in mature Beech and Spruce during 5 years of repeated summer drought, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8419, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-8419, 2022.

Ana Hernandez-Duarte and Freddy Saavedra

Fires and droughts are important drivers of disturbance in Mediterranean forests. Despite this, there is a gap of knowledge of the effect of climate change and particularly the interaction of longer periods of drought with other disturbance processes in remnants of native forests. As the frequency of these events is expected to increase in the future, it is important for forest managers to understand recovery patterns and the response of vegetation to these interactions. The objective of this work is to quantify the effects of the interaction of drought and fires in the recovery of Mediterranean-type forests at a local scale in South America using field data, satellite images, and trend analysis. These forests have experienced significant reductions in their extension and fragmentation, and in recent years have been subjected to the longest drought since there are records and that occurred between 2010 and 2020. Using a time series of Landsat satellite images (1986-2020) and the fire registry of the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) we evaluate the relationship between the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and other vegetation indices with characteristics measured in the field to evaluate the recovery after a fire event. We quantify the temporal trends of the NDVI to discover the location, direction, and timing of the change. In addition, we evaluate the interaction of climate, soil, and topography by forest type. We observe that the NDVI recovery slope is less steep in burned areas in the periods after 2015, exacerbating in topographic conditions of northern exposure (of the southern hemisphere). Even for the time period analyzed, some areas were reported where recovery levels still do not show a significant positive trend. We also observed a difference in the recovery of areas that experienced high severity fires versus low or intermediate severity fires in a period of drought, the recovery of areas exposed to a high severity fire takes twice as long to recover. These results indicate that the vegetation recovery processes can be negatively affected by the drought that occurs before, during, and after fires. Our analysis identifies spatially explicit patterns of short- and medium-term trends in these “new” regimes of prolonged droughts and fires, providing insight into forecast warmer and drier weather conditions so that our results can serve as a general framework for the resource management of these highly stressed areas, which can be applied to similar Mediterranean ecosystems.

How to cite: Hernandez-Duarte, A. and Saavedra, F.: Interaction between disturbances and their effects on the recovery of a heterogeneousMediterranean landscape in South America, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-10480, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-10480, 2022.