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Year-to-year crown condition poorly contributes to ring width variations of beech trees in French ICP level I network

Abstract : Since the 1980-90's episodes of decline in Central European Forests, forest condition has been surveyed thanks to the trans-national network the International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests (ICP Forests). It has been traditionally accepted that leaf loss is directly related to impairment of physiological condition of the tree. A few studies tried to correlate crown condition and growth trends while others concentrated on linking annual growth with crown observation at one date clustered into fertility classes. However, none focussed on the high frequency synchronism between leaf loss from annual network observations and annual radial growth issued from dendrochronology. Therefore, we jointly studied annual leaf loss observations and tree-ring width measurements on 715 common beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) trees distributed in the French part of the ICP monitoring network. Detrended inter-annual variations of leaf loss and tree-ring width index were used as response variables in the machine-learning algorithm Random Forest to investigate a common response to abiotic (current and lagged) and biotic hazards, to test the extent to which leaf loss helped to predict inter-annual variations in radial growth. Using Random Forest was effective to identify a common sensitivity to soil water deficit at different time lags. Previous-year climatic variables tended to control leaf loss while radial growth was more sensitive to current-year soil water deficit. Late frost damages were observed on crown condition in mountainous regions but no impact was detected on radial growth. Few significant biotic damages were observed on growth or leaf loss. Leaf loss series did not show a clear common signal among trees from a plot as did radial growth and captured fewer pointer years. Radial growth index did not fall below normal until a 20% leaf loss was reached. However, this threshold is driven by a few extreme leaf loss events. As shown by our joint analysis of leaf loss and radial growth pointer years, no relationship occurred in cases of slight or moderate defoliation. Crown condition is a poorer descriptor of tree vitality than radial growth.
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Contributor : Vincent Badeau <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 1:44:25 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 2:57:32 PM

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Clara Tallieu, Vincent Badeau, Denis Allard, Louis-Michel Nageleisen, Nathalie Bréda. Year-to-year crown condition poorly contributes to ring width variations of beech trees in French ICP level I network. Forest Ecology and Management, 2020, 465, pp.118071. ⟨10.1016/j.foreco.2020.118071⟩. ⟨hal-03197983⟩

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