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Crown defoliation decreases reproduction and wood growth in a marginal European beech population

Abstract : Abstract Background and Aims Abiotic and biotic stresses related to climate change have been associated with increased crown defoliation, decreased growth and a higher risk of mortality in many forest tree species, but the impact of stresses on tree reproduction and forest regeneration remains understudied. At dry warm margin of species distributions, flowering, pollination and seed maturation are expected to be affected by drought, late frost and other stresses, eventually resulting in reproduction failure. Moreover, inter-individual variation in reproductive performance versus other performance (growth, survival) could have important consequences for population dynamics. This study investigated the relationships among individual crown defoliation, growth and reproduction in a drought-prone population of European beech, Fagus sylvatica Methods We used a spatially explicit mating model and marker-based parentage analyses to estimate effective female and male fecundities of 432 reproductive trees, which were also monitored for basal area increment and crown defoliation over nine years. Key Results Female and male fecundities markedly varied between individuals, more than did growth. Both female fecundity and growth decreased with increasing crown defoliation and competition, and increased with size. Moreover, the negative effect of defoliation on female fecundity was size-dependent, with a slower decline in female fecundity with increasing defoliation for the large individuals. Finally, a trade-off between growth and female fecundity was observed in response to defoliation: some large trees maintained significant female fecundity at the expense of reduced growth in response to defoliation, while some other defoliated trees maintained high growth at the expense of reduced female fecundity. Conclusions Our results suggest that while decreasing their growth, some large defoliated trees still contribute to reproduction through seed production and pollination. This non-coordinated decline of growth and fecundity at individual-level in response to stress may compromise the evolution of stress-resistance traits at population level, and increase forest tree vulnerability.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03279430
Contributor : Sylvie Oddou-Muratorio <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 6, 2021 - 2:51:33 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 8, 2021 - 11:24:03 AM

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Sylvie Oddou-Muratorio, Cathleen Petit-Cailleux, Valentin Journé, Matthieu Lingrand, Jean-André Magdalou, et al.. Crown defoliation decreases reproduction and wood growth in a marginal European beech population. Annals of Botany, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021, ⟨10.1093/aob/mcab054⟩. ⟨hal-03279430⟩

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