Climatic turning point for beech and oak under climate change in Central Europe

Tobias Mette, Klara Dolos, Cathrin Meinardus, Achim Bräuning, Björn Reineking, Markus Blaschke, Hans Pretzsch, Carl Beierkuhnlein, Andreas Gohlke, Camilla Wellstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The growth behavior of coexisting tree species under climate change is important from an ecological, silvicultural and economic perspective. While many previous studies are concerned with climatic limits for species occurrence, we focus on climate related shifts in interspecific competition. A landmark for these changes in competition is the 'climatic turning point' (CTP): those climate conditions under which a rank reversal between key tree species occurs. Here, we used a common type of temperate mixed forest in Central Europe with European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) to explore the CTP under a future climate projection of increasing temperature and aridity. We selected a dry region where the prerequisite of differential climate sensitivity in mixed beech-oak forests was fulfilled: In-situ dendrochronological analyses demonstrated that the currently more competitive beech was more drought sensitive than sessile oak. We then used two complementary forest growth models, namely SILVA and LandClim, to investigate the climate induced rank-reversal in species dominance and to quantify it as the CTP from beech to oak by simulating future forest development from the WETTREG 2010 A1B climate projection. Utilizing two models allowed us to draw conclusions robust against the assumptions of a particular model. Both models projected a CTP at a mean annual temperature of 11-12°C (July temperature. 18°C) and a precipitation sum of 500-530 mm. However, the change in tree species composition can exhibit a time-lag of several decades depending on past st and development and current st and structure. We conclude that the climatic turning point is a simple yet effective reference measure to study climate related changes in interspecific competition, and confirm the importance of competition sensitivity in climate change modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
Issue number12
StatePublished - 3 Dec 2013


  • Climatic turning point
  • Competitiveness
  • Drought
  • Fagus sylvatica
  • Forest growth models
  • LandClim
  • Mixed forest
  • Quercus petraea
  • Species rank reversal
  • Tree coexistence
  • Tree-ring analysis


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