Autumn and spring frost events caused wide variation in the survival of juvenile Douglas-fir in Austrian forest sites located in the transition zone from Atlantic to continental climate. Survival rate can be optimized by planting provenances originating from an altitudinal belt of 500–1400 m in North America. Neither the variety nor the climate of origin of planted Douglas-fir provenances influence its response to frost events.
Understanding the risks of frost during late spring and early autumn is crucial for planting non-native Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirbel] Franco) as an alternative tree species under climate change in Europe.
We investigate the role of early and late frost events on the survival of juvenile Douglas-fir and tested whether survival depends on seed origin.
With data from 19 provenance trials across Austria, we modeled the effects of early and late frost events on juvenile survival rate, accounting for random variations due to site condition and provenance origin.
Wide variations (37–93%) in the juvenile survival rate of Douglas-fir were mainly driven by early and late frost events (daily Tmin < 0 °C), summer drought, and continentality. Juvenile survival declined with an increasing number of frost events within the observation period and prevailing warm spells preceding the frost events. The seed origin of the tested provenances had a minor effect and was related to the altitude, but not to the variety or the climate of provenance origin.
For planting Douglas-fir in the transition zone from Atlantic to continental climates, typical in Austrian forests, the local site conditions and the probability of the occurrence of early and late frosts should be considered, while provenance selection should rather focus on productivity.
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We acknowledge the support of all present and former colleagues of BFW, Vienna who undertook field measurement at the Douglas-fir trials within the last four decades.
The study was funded by the Austrian Climate Research Program ACRP 4th Call for Proposals, Project no. B175092 (KR11AC0K00386).
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Contribution of the co-authors
DC: did the analysis and wrote the manuscript, CM & KA: provided climate data, LW: performed measurement of provenance trials and recorded observations, SS: conceived the research, reviewed analysis and manuscript
This article is part of the topical collection on Forest Adaptation and Restoration under Global Change
Handling Editor: Andreas Bolte
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Chakraborty, D., Matulla, C., Andre, K. et al. Survival of Douglas-fir provenances in Austria: site-specific late and early frost events are more important than provenance origin. Annals of Forest Science 76, 100 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-019-0883-2
- Climate change
- Pseudotsuga menziesii
- Provenance trial
- Extreme events
- Early frost
- Late frost