, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 819–829 | Cite as

Mountain forest growth response to climate change in the Northern Limestone Alps

  • Claudia Hartl-MeierEmail author
  • Christoph Dittmar
  • Christian Zang
  • Andreas Rothe
Original Paper


Key message

Growth response to climate differs between species and elevation. Fir is the most drought-tolerant species. The mountain forests are robust to the climatic changes until now.


Alpine mountain forests provide a wide range of ecological and socio-economic services. Climate change is predicted to challenge these forests, but there are still considerable uncertainties how these ecosystems will be affected. Here, we present a multispecies tree-ring network of 500 trees from the Berchtesgaden Alps (Northern Limestone Alps, Southeast Germany) in order to assess the performance of native mountain forest species under climate change conditions. The dataset comprises 180 spruce, 90 fir, 110 larch and 120 beech trees from different elevations and slope exposures. We analyse the species with respect to: (1) the general growth/climate response; (2) the growth reaction (GR) during the hot summer in 2003 and (3) the growth change (GC) resulting from increasing temperatures since the 1990s. Spruce is identified as the most drought-sensitive species at the lower elevations. Fir shows a high drought tolerance and is well suited with regard to climate change. Larch shows no clear pattern, and beech remains unaffected at lower elevations. The unprecedented temperature increase of the last decades did not induce any distinct GC. The mountain forests of the Berchtesgaden Alps appear to be robust within the climatic changes until now.


Tree-rings Climate signal Radial growth Elevational belts Dendroecology Berchtesgaden Alps 



We thank the staff from the Berchtesgaden National Park and the adjacent forest districts, in particular M. Vogel, V. Konnert, R. Baier, M. Hofbeck, H. Neubauer, W. Vogel, M. Gröll., D. Müller, P. Renoth and C. Dinger for supporting site selection and sampling. L. Ma, J. Riepl and F. Forster helped with field and laboratory work, and J. Esper with refining the climate response analysis. We are grateful to the Berchtesgaden National Park for funding this study. C.Z. acknowledges funding by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. [282250].

Supplementary material

468_2014_994_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (491 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 490 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Hartl-Meier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christoph Dittmar
    • 2
  • Christian Zang
    • 3
  • Andreas Rothe
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of GeographyJohannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany
  2. 2.Environmental Research and Education (UFB)MistelbachGermany
  3. 3.Chair of EcoclimatologyTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  4. 4.Faculty of ForestryUniversity of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-TriesdorfFreisingGermany

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