Daily growth of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) on moist sites is affected by short-term drought rather than ozone uptake

Angelika R. Kühn, Sonja Grill, Manuela Baumgarten, Donna P. Ankerst, Rainer Matyssek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Key message: Daily stem growth was reduced by drought with high significance, but not affected by ozone uptake or drought–ozone interaction. Increasing air temperature showed capacity of compensating negative drought effects. Abstract: Future increases in stress on forest trees due to rising ozone deposition and/or exacerbating drought are one of many contemporary climate change concerns. European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) is known to be sensitive to both stressors. To date, there is limited evidence concerning the impact of ozone uptake, or its combined effect with drought, on the growth of forest trees. This study emanated from the hypothesis that high daily ozone influx potentially limits daily radial stem increment. A secondary hypothesis intimated that not only prolonged, but also short-term water limitation has the capacity for reducing intra-annual growth performance. To address these hypotheses, the concerted impacts of drought and O3 on radial stem growth were analyzed as components of multi-factorial field scenarios comprising gradients in altitude, temperature, precipitation and ozone exposure. Linear mixed models, adjusting for meteorological factors and nutrition, were fit to daily growth measurements in nine beech forest sites across Bavaria/Germany during three consecutive growing seasons. During individual years, daily ozone influx did not statistically significantly limit daily stem growth. However, short-term drought was associated with statistically significant, but minor and reversible limitations of intra-annual radial stem growth. Distinctive levels of plant-available soil water and soil water potential limited growth. Increases in air temperature were conducive to beech stem growth across the study region, apparently offering the capacity for buffering drought impact on the stem growth of beech.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1501-1519
Number of pages19
JournalTrees - Structure and Function
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 22 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Air temperature
  • Drought
  • Fagus sylvatica
  • Intra-annual growth
  • Ozone flux
  • Xylem sap flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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