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Can the resistance and resilience of trees to drought be increased through thinning to adapt forests to climate change?

concluded 07/2015

Abstract

Recent and predicted increases in extremely dry and hot summers emphasise the need for silvicultural approaches to increase the drought tolerance of existing forests in the short-term, before adaptation through species changes may be possible. We aim to investigate whether resistance during droughts, as well as the recovery following drought events (resilience), can be increased by allocating more growing space to individual trees through thinning. Thinning increases access of promoted trees to soil stored water, as long as this is available. However, these trees may also be disadvantaged through a higher transpirational surface, or the increased neighbourhood competition by ground vegetation. To assess whether trees with different growing space differ in drought tolerance, tree discs and cores from thinning experiments of Pinus sylvestris and Pseudotsuga menziesii stands will be used to examine transpirational stress and growth reduction during previous droughts as well as their subsequent recovery. Dendro-ecology and stable isotopes of carbon and oxygen in tree-rings will be used to quantify how assimilation rate and stomatal conductance were altered through thinning. The results will provide crucial information for the development of short-term silvicultural adaptation strategies to adapt forest ecosystems to climate change. In addition, this study will improve our understanding of the relationship between resistance and resilience of trees in relation to extreme stress events.

Supervision:Prof. Dr.  Jürgen BauhusDr. Martin Kohler
Researcher:
Funding:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Duration:
08/2011 - 07/2015
Partner:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Püttmann, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University
Prof. Dr.  Arthur Gessler, Institute of Landscape Matter Dynamics at the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)

 

 

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