Annals of Forest Science

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 325–333 | Cite as

Drought and frost resistance of trees: a comparison of four species at different sites and altitudes

  • Katline Charra-VaskouEmail author
  • Guillaume Charrier
  • Rémi Wortemann
  • Barbara Beikircher
  • Hervé Cochard
  • Thierry Ameglio
  • Stefan Mayr
Original Paper



Drought and frost resistances are key factors for the survival and distribution of tree species.


In this study, the vulnerability to drought-induced embolism and frost resistance of four species were analysed, whereby different sites and altitudes were compared and seasonal variation was considered.


Fagus sylvatica L., Sorbus aucuparia L., Picea abies L. Karst and Larix decidua Mill samples were harvested at high and low altitude sites in France and Austria, respectively, and sampling occurred in winter and summer. Pressure at 50% loss of conductivity (P 50), specific hydraulic conductivity (k s) and temperature lethal for 50% of cells (LT50) were determined, and soluble carbohydrate and starch content were quantified.


No site-, altitude- or season-specific trend in P 50 was observed, except for S. aucuparia, which showed P 50 to decrease with altitude. Within regions, k s tended to decrease with altitudes. LT50 was between −48.4°C (winter) and −9.4°C (summer) and more negative in Tyrolean trees. Starch content was overall lower and carbohydrate content higher in winter than in summer, no site-specific or altitudinal trend was observed.


Studied species obviously differed in their strategies to withstand to frost and drought, so that site-related, altitudinal and seasonal patterns varied.


Conifer Angiosperm Carbohydrate P50 LT50 ks 


Acknowledgements and funding

This study was supported by the “Austrian Academic Exchange Service”, Amadee 2009–2010, “Österreichische HochschülerInnenschaft Innsbruck” and “Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung”. The authors thank the Central Institute for Meterology and Geodynamics (ZAMG, Regionalstelle für Tirol und Vorarlberg) for providing climate data. We also thank the Office National des Forêts for tree samples as well as Pierre Conchon for help with cavitron measurements, Christian Bodet and Christophe Serre for help with LT50, Brigitte Girard, Brigitte Saint-Joanis and Marc Vandame for biochemical analysis as well as Birgit Dämon for assistance during measurements.


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Copyright information

© INRA / Springer-Verlag France 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katline Charra-Vaskou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guillaume Charrier
    • 2
    • 3
  • Rémi Wortemann
    • 2
    • 3
  • Barbara Beikircher
    • 1
  • Hervé Cochard
    • 2
    • 3
  • Thierry Ameglio
    • 2
    • 3
  • Stefan Mayr
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.INRA, UMR A547 PIAF, Site INRA de CrouelleClermont-FerrandFrance
  3. 3.Clermont Université, Université Blaise Pascal, UMR A547 PIAFClermont-Ferrand Cedex 2France

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