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Avignon, France

Cailleret M.,UR629 | Cailleret M.,Swiss Federal Institute of forest | Nourtier M.,UMR1114 | Amm A.,UR629 | And 2 more authors.
Annals of Forest Science

Context: In the Mediterranean area, numerous decline and mortality processes have been reported during recent decades, affecting forest dynamics. They are likely due to increases in summer drought severity and therefore especially affect drought-sensitive species, such as silver fir (Abies alba Mill.). Aims and methods: To understand the relationships between tree growth, crown condition and mortality probability, radial growth trends of healthy, declining (showing crown damages) and dead trees were compared using tree-ring analysis. Factors involved in determining this mortality were also examined at the plot and tree level using altitudinal gradients on three contrasted sites in southeastern France. Results: Individuals with higher inter-annual variability in growth were more prone to dieback. At two sites, dead trees displayed lower growth rates over their entire lifetime, while, on the last site, their juvenile growth rate was higher. Trees with crown damage had higher growth rates than healthy trees on one site, and their radial growth trends over time always differed from those of dead trees. Mortality and crown damage were little related to altitude, but strongly differed between sites and among plots underlining the importance of local edaphic and topographic conditions. Conclusion: These results suggest that the relationships among mortality probability, crown condition and growth can differ among sites, and highlight the impact of soil conditions and the need to assess them in tree mortality studies. © 2013 INRA and Springer-Verlag France. Source

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