Plasticity of response of tree-ring width of Scots pine provenances to weather extremes in Latvia


Climatic changes and weather extremes are causing shifts in distribution of tree species, affecting productivity of forests. With the northwards advance of deciduous species in Northern Europe, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) is predicted to decrease survival and productivity. Nevertheless, Scots pine have adapted to diverse environments, hence selection among its populations could be applied to sustain productivity of stands under changing climate. In this study, sensitivity of tree-ring width of Eastern European provenances of Scots pine differing by field performance (Dippoldiswalde, Eibenstock, Rytel, Gustrow, and Kalsnava) to weather extremes in three trials in Latvia (hemiboreal zone) was assessed via pointer year and tolerance analyses. The studied provenances were sensitive to winter temperature regime; the effects of water deficit and vegetation period’s length were also observed, likely due to warming. The sensitivity of tree-ring width to weather extremes, which differed among the provenances indicating plasticity of growth, correlated with field performance. Although transferred north, the top-performing provenances (Gustrow and Rytel) were able to promptly recover after cold spells as well as dry summers and were able to benefit from warm winters and precipitation-rich summers. The bottom-performing provenances (Dippoldiswalde and Eibenstock) were sensitive to cold spells and summer water deficit, yet were unable to benefit from warm winters, nor moist summers. Considering sensitivity and resilience of growth, the studied top-performing provenances, particularly Rytel, showed commercial potential in the hemiboreal region under warming climate.