iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Impact of climate change on tree-ring growth of Scots pine, common beech and pedunculate oak in northeastern Germany

Andreas Bauwe (1)   , Gerald Jurasinski (1), Tobias Scharnweber (2), Christian Schröder (2), Bernd Lennartz (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 1-11 (2015)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1421-008
Published: Oct 13, 2015 - Copyright © 2015 SISEF

Research Articles

Tree growth depends, among other factors, largely on the prevailing climatic conditions. Therefore, changes to tree growth patterns are to be expected under climate change. Here, we analyze the tree-ring growth response of three major European tree species to projected future climate across a climatic (mostly precipitation) gradient in northeastern Germany. We used monthly data for temperature, precipitation, and the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) over multiple time scales (1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months) to construct models of tree-ring growth for Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) at three pure stands, and for common beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) at three mature mixed stands. The regression models were derived using a two-step approach based on partial least squares regression (PLSR) to extract potentially well explaining variables followed by ordinary least squares regression (OLSR) to consolidate the models to the least number of variables while retaining high explanatory power. The stability of the models was tested through a comprehensive calibration-verification scheme. All models were successfully verified with R²s ranging from 0.21 for the western pine stand to 0.62 for the beech stand in the east. For growth prediction, climate data forecasted until 2100 by the regional climate model WETTREG2010 based on the A1B Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission scenario was used. For beech and oak, growth rates will likely decrease until the end of the 21st century. For pine, modeled growth trends vary and range from a slight growth increase to a weak decrease in growth rates. The climatic gradient across the study area will possibly affect the future growth of oak with larger growth reductions towards the drier east. For beech, site-specific adaptations seem to override the influence of the climatic gradient. We conclude that Scots pine has great potential to remain resilient to projected climate change without any greater impairment, whereas common beech and pedunculate oak will likely face lesser growth under the expected warmer and dryer climate conditions. The results call for an adaptation of forest management to mitigate the negative effects of climate change for beech and oak.


Partial Least Squares Regression (PLSR), Precipitation Gradient, Tree-ring Growth Forecast, Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), Tree Rings, WETTREG

Authors’ address

Andreas Bauwe
Gerald Jurasinski
Bernd Lennartz
Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Rostock, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 6, D-18059 Rostock (Germany)
Tobias Scharnweber
Christian Schröder
Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, University of Greifswald, Soldmanntr. 15, D-17487 Greifswald (Germany)

Corresponding author



Bauwe A, Jurasinski G, Scharnweber T, Schröder C, Lennartz B (2015). Impact of climate change on tree-ring growth of Scots pine, common beech and pedunculate oak in northeastern Germany. iForest 9: 1-11. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1421-008

Academic Editor

Andrea Cutini

Paper history

Received: Aug 05, 2014
Accepted: Sep 07, 2015

First online: Oct 13, 2015
Publication Date: Feb 21, 2016
Publication Time: 1.20 months

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