Alternative tree species under climate warming in managed European forests uri icon


  • The 12 investigated species are already in focus in forestry and it has been shown that the changing climate creates conditions for a targeted promotion in European forests. Nevertheless, area winners exhibited lower growth performances. So, forest conversion with these warm-adapted species goes hand in hand with loss of overall growth performance compared to current species composition. So, the results are a premise for a further discussion on the ecological consequences and the consistency with forest socio-economic goals and conservation policies.
  • This study estimates the present and future distribution potential of 12 thermophilic and rare tree species for Europe based on climate-soil sensitive species distribution models (SDMs), and compares them to the two major temperate and boreal tree species (Fops sylvatica and Picea abies).
  • We find a northward shift of 461 km and 697 km for the thermophilic species over the regarded time period from 2060 to 2080 under a warming scenario of 2.9 degrees C and 4.5 degrees C, respectively. Potential winners of climatic warming have their distribution centroid below 48 degrees N. Fagus sylvatica and Picea abies will lose great parts of their potential distribution range (approx. 55 and 60%, respectively). An index of area gain and growth performance revealed Ulmus laevis, Quercus rubra, Quercus cerris and Robinia pseudoacacia as interesting alternatives in managed temperate forests currently dominated by F. sylvatica and P. abies.
  • We used European national forest inventory data with 1.3 million plots to predict the distribution of the 12 + 2 tree species in Europe today and under future warming scenarios of +2.9 and +4.5 degrees C. The SDMs that were used to calculate the distributions were in a first step only given climate variables for explanation. In a second step, deviations which could not be explained by the climate models were tested in an additional soil variable-based model. Site-index models were applied to the found species distribution to estimate the growth performance (site index) under the given climate.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018