, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 557–569 | Cite as

Size-dependent responses to summer drought in Scots pine, Norway spruce and common oak

  • Christian ZangEmail author
  • Hans Pretzsch
  • Andreas Rothe
Original Paper


In this study, we provide a detailed analysis of tree growth and water status in relation to climate of three major species of forest trees in lower regions of Bavaria, Southern Germany: Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Norway spruce (Picea abies) and common oak (Quercus robur). Tree-ring chronologies and latewood δ13C were used to derive measures for drought reaction across trees of different dimensions: growth reduction associated with drought years, long-term growth/climate relations and stomatal control on photosynthesis. For Scots pine, growth/climate relations indicated a stronger limitation of radial growth by high summer temperatures and low summer precipitation in smaller trees in contrast to larger trees. This is corroborated by a stronger stomatal control on photosynthesis for smaller pine trees under average conditions. In dry years, however, larger pine trees exhibited stronger growth reductions. For Norway spruce, a significantly stronger correlation of tree-ring width with summer temperatures and summer precipitation was found for larger trees. Additionally, for Norway spruce there is evidence for a change in competition mode from size-asymmetric competition under conditions with sufficient soil water supply to a more size-symmetric competition under dry conditions. Smaller oak trees showed a weaker stomatal control on photosynthesis under both dry and average conditions, which is also reflected by a significantly faster recovery of tree-ring growth after extreme drought events in smaller oak trees. The observed patterns are discussed in the context of the limitation-caused matter partitioning hypothesis and possible species-specific ontogenetic modifications.


Drought stress Stable isotopes Intraspecific competition Size–growth relationship Stress response 



C.Z. was funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (board of trustees of the Bavarian State Institute of Forestry LWF, grant E 45). The authors thank Klaus Kagerer for carrying out most of the field and laboratory work, and three anonymous reviewers for helping to improve a previous version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecoclimatology Technische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Advanced StudiesTechnische Universität MünchenGarchingGermany
  3. 3.Forest Growth and Yield ScienceTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  4. 4.Faculty for ForestryUniversity of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-TriesdorfFreisingGermany

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