3 years ago

Different responses of multispecies tree ring growth to various drought indices across Europe

Increasing frequency and intensity of drought extremes associated with global change are a key challenge for forest ecosystems. Consequently, the quantification of drought effects on tree growth as a measure of vitality is of highest concern from the perspectives of both science and management. To date, a multitude of drought indices have been used to accompany or replace primary climatic variables in the analysis of drought-related growth responses. However, it remains unclear how individual drought metrics compare to each other in terms of their ability to capture drought signals in tree growth. In our study, we employ a European multispecies tree ring network at the continental scale and a set of four commonly used drought indices (De Martonne Aridity Index, self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index, Standardized Precipitation Index and Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index, the latter two on varying temporal scales) to derive species-specific growth responses to drought conditions. For nine common European tree species, we demonstrate spatio-temporal matches and mismatches of tree growth with drought indices subject to species, elevation and bioclimatic zone. Forests located in the temperate and Mediterranean climate were drought sensitive and tended to respond to short- and intermediate-term drought (<1year). In continental climates, forests were comparably more drought resistant and responded to long-term drought. For the same species, stands were less drought sensitive at higher elevations compared to lower elevations. We provide detailed information on the month-wise performance of the four drought indices in different climate zones allowing users the selection of the most appropriate index according to their objective criteria. Our results show that species-specific differences in responses to multiple stressors result in complex, yet coherent patterns of tree growth.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1125786516301242

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