Decreasing stand density favors resistance, resilience, and recovery of Quercus petraea trees to a severe drought, particularly on dry sites

Key message

Decreasing stand density increases resistance, resilience, and recovery of Quercus petraea trees to severe drought (2003), particularly on dry sites, and the effect was independent of tree social status.

Abstract

Context Controlling competition is an advocated strategy to modulate the response of trees to predicted changes in climate.
Aims We investigated the effects of stand density (low, medium, high; relative density index 0.20, 0.53, 1.04), social status (dominant, codominant, suppressed), and water balance (dry, mesic, wet; summer water balance − 182, − 126, − 96 mm) on the climate-growth relationships (1997–2012) and resistance (Rt), resilience (Rs), and recovery (Rc) following the 2003 drought.
Methods Basal area increments were collected by coring (269 trees) in young stands (28 ± 7.5 years in 2012) of sessile oak (Quercus petraea) in a French permanent network of silvicultural plots.
Results We showed that the climate-growth relationships depend on average site-level water balance with trees highly dependent on spring and summer droughts on dry and mesic sites and not at all on wet sites. Neither stand density nor social status modulated mean response to climate. Decreasing stand density increased Rt, Rs, and Rc particularly on dry sites. The effect was independent of tree social position within the stand.
Conclusion Reducing stand density mitigates more the effect of extreme drought events on drier sites than on wet sites.

Keywords
Resistance, Resilience, Drought, Stand density, Quercus petraea, Silvicultural network

Publication
Schmitt, A., Trouvé, R., Seynave, I. et al. Decreasing stand density favors resistance, resilience, and recovery of Quercus petraea trees to a severe drought, particularly on dry sites. Annals of Forest Science 77, 52 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-020-00959-9

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Data availability
The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the GIS Coop members on reasonable request.

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