An experimentally controlled extreme drought in a Norway spruce forest reveals fast hydraulic response and subsequent recovery of growth rates

Abstract

Key message

An experimental drought treatment, exacerbated by a natural drought event, compromised growth in Norway spruce, but more cavitation-resistant xylem was produced and no long-term growth reductions were observed.

Abstract

An experimental drought treatment in a mature Norway spruce forest that coincided with a rare drought event in southern Sweden in 1992, allowed us to study how such forests may respond to similar extreme events in the future. Immediately after the onset of the drought treatment, height and diameter growth decreased compared to control treatments. New xylem cells had smaller lumen und thicker walls, resulting in a more safety-orientated water transport system. The maximum growth and hydraulic system response of the 1990–1996 drought treatment coincided with the 1992 summer drought event. After the drought treatment ended, all measured traits recovered to control and irrigation treatment values after 3 years. While height and diameter growth recovered with delay, wood structure and hydraulic properties showed fast recovery. We conclude that a highly plastic response of the hydraulic system indicates a notable degree of resilience to droughts that are expected to become more common under climate change. Our results do not imply, however, that survival and productivity of Norway spruce plantations would not be compromised under drier conditions in the future, and they apply to site conditions equivalent to the studied system.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Aitken SN, Yeaman S, Holliday JA, Wang T, Curtis-McLane S (2008) Adaptation, migration or extirpation: Climate change outcomes for tree populations. Evol Appl 1:95–111

    PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Alavi G (2002) The impact of soil moisture on stem growth of spruce forest during a 22-year period. For Ecol Manage 166:17–33

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Andreassen K, Solberg S, Tveito OE, Lystad SL (2006) Regional differences in climatic responses of Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst) growth in Norway. For Ecol Manage 222(1–2):211–221

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barnard DM, Meinzer FC, Lachenbruch B, McCulloh KA, Johnson MJ, Woodruff DR (2011) Climate-related trends in sapwood biophysical properties in two conifers: avoidance of hydraulic dysfunction through coordinated adjustments in xylem efficiency, safety and capacitance. Plant Cell Environ 34:643–654

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B (2012) lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using S4 classes R package version 0999999-0. http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/lme4/index.html

  6. Beguería, Vinte-Serano (2013) SPEI: calculation of the standardized precipitation-evapotranspiration index, Version 1.4. http://cran.rproject.org/web/packages/SPEI/index.html

  7. Bergh J, Linder S, Lundmark T, Elfving B (1999) The effect of water and nutrient availability on the productivity of Norway spruce in northern and southern Sweden. For Ecol Manage 119:51–62

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bergholm J, Jansson P-E, Johansson U, Majdi H, Nilsson LO, Persson H, Rosengren-Brinck U, Wiklund K (1995) Air pollution, tree vitality and forest production—the Skogaby project general description of a field experiment with Norway spruce in south Sweden. In: Nilsson LO, Hiittl RF, Johansson UT, Mathy P (eds) Nutrient up- take and cycling in forest ecosystems ecosystem research report 21. Luxembourg, pp 69–87

  9. Boden S, Schinker MG, Duncker P, Spiecker H (2012) Resolution abilities and measuring depth of high-frequency densitometry on wood samples. Measurement 45:1913–1921

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Bréda N, Huc R, Granier A, Dreyer E (2006) Temperate forest trees and stands under severe drought: a review of ecophysiological responses, adaptation processes and long-term consequences. Ann For Sci 63:625–644

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bryukhanova M, Fonti P (2013) Xylem plasticity allows rapid hydraulic adjustment to annual climatic variability. Trees Struct Funct 27:485–496

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Burke E, Brown S, Christidis N (2006) Modeling the recent evolution of global drought and projections for the twenty-first century with the Hadley Centre climate model. J Hydrometeorol 7:1113–1125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Chmielewski FM, Müller A, Bruns E (2004) Climate changes and trends in phenology of fruit trees and field crops in Germany, 1961–2000. Agric For Meteorol 121:69–78

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Dalla-Salda G, Martinez-Meier AM, Cochard H, Rozenberg P (2009) Variation of wood density and hydraulic properties of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.)) clones related to a heat and drought wave in France. For Ecol Manage 257:182–189

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dalla-Salda G, Martinez-Meier AM, Cochard H, Rozenberg P (2011) Genetic variation of xylem hydraulic properties shows that wood density is involved in adaptation to drought in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.)). Ann For Sci 68:747–757

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Denne MP (1988) Definition of latewood according to Mork (1928). IAWA J 10:59–62

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. DeSoto L, de la Cruz M, Fonti P (2011) Intra-annual pattern of tracheid size in the Mediterranean Juniperus thurifera as indicator for seasonal water stress. Can J For Res 41:1280–1294

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Eilmann B, Zweifel R, Buchmann N, Fonti P, Rigling A (2009) Drought induced adaptation of the xylem in Pinus sylvestris and Quercus pubescens. Tree Physiol 29(8):1011–1020

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hacke UG, Sperry JS (2001) Functional and ecological xylem anatomy. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 4(2):97–115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Hacke UG, Sperry JS, Pockman WT, Davis SD, McCulloh KA (2001) Trends in wood density and structure are linked to prevention of xylem implosion by negative pressure. Oecologia 126:457–461

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Hacke UG, Sperry JS, Pittermann J (2004) Analysis of circular bordered pit function II. Gymnosperm tracheids with torus-margo pit membranes. Am J Bot 91(3):386–400

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Hamann A, Wang T, Spittlehouse DL, Murdock TQ (2013) A comprehensive, high-resolution database of historical and projected climate surfaces for western North America. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 94:1307–1309

    Google Scholar 

  23. Hanewinkel M, Cullmann DA, Schelhaas MJ, Nabuurs GJ, Zimmermann NE (2013) Climate change may cause severe loss in the economic value of European forest land. Nat Clim Chang 3:203–207

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Hothorn T, Bretz F, Westfall P (2008) Simultaneous inference in general parametric models. Biom J 50:346–363

    Google Scholar 

  25. Jansson PE (1990) The Skogaby project. Project description. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and University of Lund, Uppsala

    Google Scholar 

  26. Jyske T, Hölttä T, Mäkinen H, Nöjd P, Lumme I, Spiecker H (2010) The effect of artificially induced drought on radial increment and wood properties of Norway spruce. Tree Physiol 30(1):103–115

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Kolb KJ, Sperry JS (1999) Differences in drought adaptation between subspecies of sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Ecol 80:2373–2384

    Google Scholar 

  28. Lindberg N, Engtsson JB, Persson T (2002) Effects of experimental irrigation and drought on the composition and diversity of soil fauna in a coniferous stand. J Appl Ecol 39:924–936

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Mäkinen H, Nöjd P, Mielikäinen K (2001) Climatic signal in annual growth variation in damaged and healthy stands of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) in southern Finland. Trees Struct Funct 15:177–185

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Martinez-Meier A, Sanchez L, Pastorino M, Gallo L, Rozenberg P (2008) What is hot in tree rings? The wood density of surviving Douglas-firs to the 2003 drought and heat wave. For Ecol Manage 256:837–843

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Mayr S, Rothart B, Dämon B (2003) Hydraulic efficiency and safety of leader shoots and twigs in Norway spruce growing at the alpine timberline. J Exp Bot 54(392):2563–2568

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Nilsson LO (1997) Manipulation of conventional forest management practices to increase forest growth—results from the Skogaby project. For Ecol Manage 91:53–60

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Nilsson LO, Wiklund K (1992) Influence of nutrient and water stress on Norway spruce production in south Sweden—the role of air pollutants. Plant Soil 147:251–265

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Park YI, Spiecker H (2005) Variations in the tree-ring structure of Norway spruce under contrasting climates. Dendrochronologia 23(2):93–104

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Puhe J (2003) Growth and development of the root system of Norway spruce (Picea abies) in forest stands—a review. For Ecol Manage 175:253–273

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. R Development Core Team (2013) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/

  37. Rosner S, Klein A, Müller U, Karlsson B (2008) Tradeoffs between hydraulic and mechanical stress responses of mature Norway spruce trunk wood. Tree Physiol 28:1179–1188

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Rozenberg P, Van Loo J, Hannrup B, Grabner M (2002) Clonal variation of wood density of cambium reaction to water deficit in Picea abies (L.) Karst. Ann For Sci 59:533–540

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Schinker M, Hansen N, Spiecker H (2003) High-frequency densitometry—a new method for the rapid evaluation of wood density variations. IAWA J 24(3):231–239

    Google Scholar 

  40. Schlyter P, Stjernquist I, Bärring L, Jönsson AM, Nilsson C (2006) Assessment of the impacts of climate change and weather extremes on boreal forests in northern Europe, focusing on Norway spruce. Clim Res 31:75–84

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Schmidt-Vogt H (1977) Die Fichte (Band 1)—Taxonomie, Verbreitung, Morphologie, Ökologie, Waldgesellschaften. Parey, Hamburg

    Google Scholar 

  42. Schutt P, Cowling EB (1985) Waldsterben, a general decline of forests in central-Europe—symptoms, development and possible causes. Plant Dis 69(7):548–558

    Google Scholar 

  43. Solberg S (2004) Summer drought: a driver for crown condition and mortality of Norway spruce in Norway. For Pathol 34(2):93–104

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Spiecker H (2002) Silvicultural management in maintaining biodiversity and resistance of forests in Europe—temperate zone. J Environ Manage 67(1):55–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Spiecker H, Schinker MG, Hansen J, Park YI, Ebing T, Döll W (2000) Cell structure in tree rings: novel methods for preparation and image analysis of large cross sections. IAWA J 21:361–373

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Turtola A, Manninen AM, Rikala R, Kainulainen P (2003) Drought stress alters the concentration of wood terpenoids in scots pine and Norway spruce seedling. J Chem Ecol 29(9):1981–1995

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Tyree MT, Zimmermann MH (2002) Xylem structure and the ascent of sap. Springer, Berlin

    Book  Google Scholar 

  48. Tyree MT, Davis SD, Cochard H (1994) Biophysical perspectives of xylem evolution: is there a tradeoff of hydraulic efficiency for vulnerability to dysfunction? IAWA J 15:335–360

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. van der Maaten-Theunissen M, Kahle HP, van der Maaten E (2013) Drought sensitivity of Norway spruce is higher than that of silver fir along an altitudinal gradient in southwestern Germany. Ann For Sci 70(2):185–193

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Wang T, Hamann A, Spittlehouse DL, Murdock TQ (2012) ClimateWNA—high-resolution spatial climate data for western North America. J Appl Meteorolog Climatol 51:16–29

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the management of the Skogaby-project, Ulf Johansson and Thomas Binder for their support during the tree sampling. We thank Felix Baab and Clemens Koch for sample preparation. Comments by anonymous reviewers, Miriam Isaac-Renton and Marieke van der Maaten-Theunissen helped improve an earlier version of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to David Montwé.

Additional information

Communicated by A. Nardini.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Montwé, D., Spiecker, H. & Hamann, A. An experimentally controlled extreme drought in a Norway spruce forest reveals fast hydraulic response and subsequent recovery of growth rates. Trees 28, 891–900 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-014-1002-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Drought response
  • Resilience
  • Plasticity
  • Wood structure
  • Wood density
  • Hydraulic architecture
  • Norway spruce
  • Sweden