Original Paper


, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 843-853

First online:

Response of Pinus sylvestris L. to recent climatic events in the French Mediterranean region

  • Ali ThabeetAffiliated withIMEP, Université Paul CézanneCEMAGREF
  • , Michel VennetierAffiliated withCEMAGREF
  • , Claude Gadbin-HenryAffiliated withUniversité Paul Cézanne
  • , Nicole DenelleAffiliated withUniversité Paul Cézanne
  • , Maurice RouxAffiliated withUniversité Paul Cézanne
  • , Yves CaraglioAffiliated withCIRAD, UMR AMAP
  • , Bruno VilaAffiliated withUniversité de Provence, Case 4 Email author 

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Exceptional climatic events from 2003 to 2005 (scorching heat and drought) affected the whole of the vegetation in the French Mediterranean region and in particular the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), one of the most important forest tree species in this area. To understand its response to these extreme conditions, we investigated its radial growth, branch length growth, architectural development and reproduction for the period 1995–2005, and linked these variables to climatic parameters. We used four plots situated in southeastern France and presenting different levels of site quality and potential forest productivity. The results show that: (1) the climatic episode 2003–2005 was highly detrimental to the growth (bole and branches), crown development, and cone production but favored the production of male flowers; (2) these variables depend on climatic factors of both the current and previous years; (3) the 2003 scorching heat impact was strong but was mainly apparent from 2004; it was part of a 6-year-long unfavorable cycle beginning in 2000, characterized by high minimum and maximum temperatures and very dry springs; (4) in spite of a significant effect of site quality, the Scots pine’s response to extreme climatic conditions was homogeneous in the French Mediterranean area; and (5) the stress induced by poor site conditions generally resulted in the same consequences for tree growth, architecture, and reproduction as in unfavorable climatic conditions.


Pinus sylvestris L Scorching heat Drought Growth Reproduction