Climate-growth variability in Quercus ilex L. west Iberian open woodlands of different stand density uri icon


  • High density stands responded to similar climatic factors as low density stands, but their response was generally weaker. Holm oak sensitivity to climate has increased in recent decades, which might be related to increasing temperatures in the region. Sensitivity was higher in low density stands. Additionally, the effect of summer stress on growth seems to have increased during the same period, similarly to other species in the Iberian Peninsula, suggesting that trees are more vulnerable to climatic changes.
  • Similarly to Quercus suber L., the most influential climatic variables upon holm oak growth were late spring and early summer precipitation, which enhanced growth, and high temperatures in the previous August and current July, which negatively affected growth.
  • Stand density could buffer the response to climate by smoothing climatic extremes. Nevertheless, the effect of competition might reverse this positive effect at the individual tree level. Precautions should be taken before providing management guidelines regarding the effect of climate change and stand density on holm oak.
  • We present the longest tree-ring chronology (141 y) of Quercus ilex L. (holm oak), and discuss the species climate-growth relationships and the influence of stand density on tree sensitivity to climate.

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009