, Volume 164, Issue 4, pp 1107–1119

Stand-structural effects on Heterobasidion abietinum-related mortality following drought events in Abies pinsapo

  • Juan Carlos Linares
  • Jesús Julio Camarero
  • Matthew A. Bowker
  • Victoria Ochoa
  • José Antonio Carreira
Global change ecology - Original Paper


Climate change may affect tree–pathogen interactions. This possibility has important implications for drought-prone forests, where stand dynamics and disease pathogenicity are especially sensitive to climatic stress. In addition, stand structural attributes including density-dependent tree-to-tree competition may modulate the stands’ resistance to drought events and pathogen outbreaks. To assess the effects of stand structure on root-rot-related mortality after severe droughts, we focused on Heterobasidion abietinum mortality in relict Spanish stands of Abies pinsapo, a drought-sensitive fir. We compared stand attributes and tree spatial patterns in three plots with H. abietinum root-rot disease and three plots without root-rot. Point-pattern analyses were used to investigate the scale and extent of mortality patterns and to test hypotheses related to the spread of the disease. Dendrochronology was used to date the year of death and to assess the association between droughts and growth decline. We applied a structural equation modelling approach to test if tree mortality occurs more rapidly than predicted by a simple distance model when trees are subjected to high tree-to-tree competition and following drought events. Contrary to expectations of drought mortality, the effect of precipitation on the year of death was strong and negative, indicating that a period of high precipitation induced an earlier tree death. Competition intensity, related to the size and density of neighbour trees, also induced an earlier tree death. The effect of distance to the disease focus was negligible except in combination with intensive competition. Our results indicate that infected trees have decreased ability to withstand drought stress, and demonstrate that tree-to-tree competition and fungal infection act as predisposing factors of forest decline and mortality.


Basal-area increment Climate change Competition Point-pattern analysis Structural equation modelling 

Supplementary material

442_2010_1770_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 2084 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Carlos Linares
    • 1
  • Jesús Julio Camarero
    • 2
  • Matthew A. Bowker
    • 3
  • Victoria Ochoa
    • 3
  • José Antonio Carreira
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Sistemas Físicos, Químicos y NaturalesUniversidad Pablo de OlavideSevilleSpain
  2. 2.ARAID, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (CSIC)ZaragozaSpain
  3. 3.Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación. Escuela Superior de Ciencias Experimentales y TecnologíaUniversidad Rey Juan CarlosMóstolesSpain
  4. 4.Departamento de Biología Animal, Biología Vegetal y EcologíaUniversidad de JaénJaénSpain

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