Citation Hacket-Pain AJ, Cavin L, Friend AD & Jump A (2016) Consistent limitation of growth by high temperature and low precipitation from range core to southern edge of European beech indicates widespread vulnerability to changing climate. European Journal of Forest Research, 135 (5), pp. 897-909. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10342-016-0982-7
Abstract The aim of our study was to determine variation in the response of radial growth inFagus sylvaticaL (European Beech) to climate across the species full geographical distribution and climatic tolerance. We combined new and existing data to build a database of 140 tree-ring chronologies to investigate patterns in growth–climate relationships. Our novel meta-analysis approach has allowed the first investigation of the effect of climate on tree growth across the entire geographical distribution of the species. We identified key climate signals in tree-ring chronologies and then investigated how these varied geographically and according to mean local climate, and by tree age and size. We found that the most important climate variables significantly correlated with growth did not show strong geographical patterns. Growth of trees in the core and at the southern edge of the distribution was reduced by high temperature and low precipitation during the growing season, and by high temperatures in the previous summer. However, growth of trees growing in warmer and drier locations was more frequently significantly correlated with summer precipitation than other populations. Additionally, the growth of older and larger trees was more frequently significantly correlated with previous summer temperature than younger and smaller trees. Trees growing at the south of the species geographical distributions are often considered most at risk from climate change, but our results indicate that radial growth of populations in other areas of the distribution is equally likely to be significantly correlated with summer climate and may also be vulnerable. Additionally, tree-rings from older trees contain particular growth–climate relationships that are rarely found in younger trees. These results have important implications for predicting forest carbon balance, resource use and likely future changes to forest composition across the continent.