International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 1095–1107 | Cite as

Inter- and intraannual growth patterns of urban small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata mill.) at two public squares with contrasting microclimatic conditions

  • Astrid MoserEmail author
  • Mohammad A. Rahman
  • Hans Pretzsch
  • Stephan Pauleit
  • Thomas Rötzer
Original Paper


The effects of urban conditions on tree growth have been investigated in an increasing number of studies over the last decades, emphasizing the harsh environment of cities. Urban trees often grow in highly paved, compacted sites with consequently less soil moisture, higher soil temperatures, and greater vapor pressure deficits. However, there is still a knowledge gap regarding the impact of harsh paved environments on urban tree growth during drought years on the growth patterns of urban trees. The present study investigated the structure and growth of the common urban tree species small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) at a highly paved public square (CPS) compared with a contrasting more open, greener square (OGS). Continuously, measured high precision dendrometer data along with meteorological data of the extreme dry and warm summer 2015 as well as dendrochronological data of the sampled trees were investigated to analyze tree growth during a drought year. The results highlight different tree dimensions and growth patterns of the trees at both sites, influenced by tree age and distinct site conditions. While the trees at OGS grew up to 2.5 mm from July until mid of August, the trees at CPS had only 0.4-mm diameter increment. After the initial expansion at CPS, tree diameter contracted again during summer to the point of shrinkage (up to 0.8 mm) at the end of our investigation. Further drought year analysis confirmed the patterns of significant stem growth reductions in the consecutive two years following the drought. A correlation analysis revealed that transpiration, air temperature, and vapor pressure deficit were negatively correlated with the daily diameter growth, whereas precipitation had a strong positive effect. Due to high transpiration rates associated with anisohydric water use behavior, T. cordata was able to provide evaporative cooling even during drought. However, this anisohydric behavior resulted in substantial growth decline afterwards especially at paved sites like CPS. Our results suggest selection of tree species, such as those with isohydric water use behavior, which may achieve a better balance between growth, transpiration, and hence evaporative cooling.


Drought stress Microclimate Tree growth Urban trees 



The authors thank the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection in cooperation with the project TUF01UF-64971 “Urban trees under climate change: their growth, environmental performance, and perspectives” and the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. We also thank the department for the municipal green areas of Munich for their support and encouragement. Further thanks for the help and assistance in field data collection to Chao Xu, Jens Dahlhausen, Teresa Zölch, Alexander Hellwig, Martin Honold, Claudia Chreptun, and Ekaterina Syvcheva as well as many thanks to Peter Biber for his statistical support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© ISB 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair for Forest Growth and Yield Science, School of Life Sciences WeihenstephanTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Chair for Strategic Landscape Planning and Management, School of Life Sciences WeihenstephanTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

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