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Sci Total Environ. 2018 Apr 1;619-620:1637-1647. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.138. Epub 2017 Nov 7.

Increased spruce tree growth in Central Europe since 1960s.

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IFER - Institute of Forest Ecosystem Research, Cs. armády 655, 254 01 Jílové u Prahy, Czech Republic. Electronic address:
Institute of Botany of The Czech Academy of Sciences, Zámek 1, 252 43 Průhonice, Czech Republic.
Biology Centre CAS, Institute of Hydrobiology, Na Sádkách 7, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic.
Global Change Research Institute CAS, Bělidla 986/4a, 603 00 Brno, Czech Republic.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Forest Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management, SE-901 83 Umeå, Sweden.
IFER - Institute of Forest Ecosystem Research, Cs. armády 655, 254 01 Jílové u Prahy, Czech Republic; Charles University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical geography and Geoecology, Albertov 6, 128 43 Prague, Czech Republic.


Tree growth response to recent environmental changes is of key interest for forest ecology. This study addressed the following questions with respect to Norway spruce (Picea abies, L. Karst.) in Central Europe: Has tree growth accelerated during the last five decades? What are the main environmental drivers of the observed tree radial stem growth and how much variability can be explained by them? Using a nationwide dendrochronological sampling of Norway spruce in the Czech Republic (1246 trees, 266 plots), novel regional tree-ring width chronologies for 40(±10)- and 60(±10)-year old trees were assembled, averaged across three elevation zones (break points at 500 and 700m). Correspondingly averaged drivers, including temperature, precipitation, nitrogen (N) deposition and ambient CO2 concentration, were used in a general linear model (GLM) to analyze the contribution of these in explaining tree ring width variability for the period from 1961 to 2013. Spruce tree radial stem growth responded strongly to the changing environment in Central Europe during the period, with a mean tree ring width increase of 24 and 32% for the 40- and 60-year old trees, respectively. The indicative General Linear Model analysis identified CO2, precipitation during the vegetation season, spring air temperature (March-May) and N-deposition as the significant covariates of growth, with the latter including interactions with elevation zones. The regression models explained 57% and 55% of the variability in the two tree ring width chronologies, respectively. Growth response to N-deposition showed the highest variability along the elevation gradient with growth stimulation/limitation at sites below/above 700m. A strong sensitivity of stem growth to CO2 was also indicated, suggesting that the effect of rising ambient CO2 concentration (direct or indirect by increased water use efficiency) should be considered in analyses of long-term growth together with climatic factors and N-deposition.


Dendrochronology; Elevated CO(2); Environmental change; Forest management; Picea abies; Stem increment

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