iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Species-specific climate response of oaks (Quercus spp.) under identical environmental conditions

Tanja_GM Sanders (1-2)   , Rona Pitman (3), Mark_SJ Broadmeadow (3-4)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 7, Issue 2, Pages 61-69 (2014)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0911-007
Published: Nov 18, 2013 - Copyright © 2014 SISEF

Research Articles

Oak forests play a major role in Britain due to their economic, social and historic value. Sudden oak death and general decline symptoms have therefore caused major concerns in the forestry sector over the past decade. Several strategies have been proposed to preserve the economic and social value of oak forests, including the planting of native species with more southerly origins, or non-native species of oak that may be better suited to the projected climate of the future. The Ovington research plots, established 50 years ago at the Bedgebury Pinetum in southeast England, provided the opportunity to compare annual growth rates and climate-growth relationships of five oak species growing adjacent to each other on the same soil type and under the same climatic conditions. Clear differences were evident in annual increment and climate-growth responses for the five Quercus species. Growth rates were significantly lower (p<0.05) for the two species native to the UK (Q. petraea and Q. robur) compared to the southern European and American species. A partitioning analysis using key climatic variables separates Q. coccinea from the other species due to its negative response to low temperatures. These results were confirmed by pointer year analysis. The analysis suggests that Q. robur is likely to be the more resilient of the two native species of oak to the future climate of southern Britain. Of the non-native species of oak evaluated, Q. coccinea represents an alternative species to Q. robur and Q. petraea on very dry, nutrient-poor sites. Q. palustris may also have some potential under current conditions for species diversification, but its requirement for higher summer precipitation than the other four species suggests that this potential may not be sustained as climate change progresses. However, if alternative species are selected as more resilient to climate change in terms of growth, it will be essential to consider a range of other issues including impacts on biodiversity, resilience to endemic tree pests and diseases, form and appearance, landscape and timber quality.


Quercus spp., Species Trial, Dendroecology, Climate-growth Relationships

Authors’ address

Tanja_GM Sanders
Thünen-Institute of Forest Ecosystems, Alfred-Moeller-Str. 1, D-16225 Eberswalde (Germany)
Tanja_GM Sanders
Institute for Botany and Landscape Ecology, University Greifswald, Grimmer Str. 88, D-17487 Greifswald (Germany)
Rona Pitman
Mark_SJ Broadmeadow
Formerly Forest Research, Alice Holt Lodge, Wrecclesham, GU10 4LH Farnham (UK)
Mark_SJ Broadmeadow
Forest Services, Forestry Commission England, 620 Bristol Business Park, BS16 1EJ Bristol (UK)

Corresponding author

Tanja GM Sanders


Sanders TGM, Pitman R, Broadmeadow MSJ (2014). Species-specific climate response of oaks (Quercus spp.) under identical environmental conditions. iForest 7: 61-69. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0911-007

Academic Editor

Marco Borghetti

Paper history

Received: Nov 20, 2012
Accepted: Oct 17, 2013

First online: Nov 18, 2013
Publication Date: Apr 02, 2014
Publication Time: 1.07 months

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