Growth response of Scots pine with different crown transparency status to drought release

B. Eilmann, M. Dobbertin, A. Rigling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Context - One short-term adjustment of trees to drought is the reduction of photosynthetic tissues via leaf shedding. But in conifers, it usually takes several years to fully restore needle mass and assimilation capacity. Aims - This study aims to evaluate whether leaf shedding sustainably damages conifers or if these trees still have the ability to recover from drought with respect to their foliage and wood formation. Methods - An irrigation experiment was established in a mature dry forest to test the growth reactions of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) differing in crown transparency (low, medium, high) to a drought release by irrigation in comparison with equivalent control trees growing under naturally dry conditions on the same site. Results - Drought and high crown transparency had a combined negative effect on radial tree growth: Control trees with medium to high crown transparencies showed a substantially shorter growth period and a long-lasting growth depression in response to the severe summer drought in 2003. However, all trees benefited from irrigation, irrespective of their crown status, and immediately increased growth in response to irrigation. Conclusion - The progressed drought-induced defoliation seemed to be a weakening factor for trees suffering from drought, but this can be reversed if the water supply is improved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-693
JournalAnnals of Forest Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • swiss rhone valley
  • pinning method
  • pubescent oak
  • xylem growth
  • mortality
  • sylvestris
  • forest
  • populations
  • dynamics
  • decline


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