Research papers

Climate change impact on a mixed lowland oak stand in Serbia


Climatic changes and bad environmental conditions may lead to forests vitality loss and even mortality. This is the reason why increased sanitary felling operations were performed in mixed oak forests in northern Serbia in 2013 in order to solve the severe dieback which affected some Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) and Turkey oak (Quercus cerris L.) stands, after the very dry years 2011 and 2012.

Dendrochronological techniques were applied to both these oak species collected in a stand, to examine the impact of temperature, precipitation and ground water level on forest growth and investigate the potential causes of the dieback.

Differences in tree-ring patterns between surviving and dead trees were not significant according to t-value (from 5.68 to 14.20) and Gleichläufigkeit coefficient (from 76% to 82%), this meaning no distinctive responses of the two ecologically different oak species. As for radial increment, pedunculate and Turkey oak trees showed a similar response to environmental variables in this mixed stand. The Simple Pearson’s correlation analysis, which was conducted, showed that among three basic environmental variables (the mean monthly air temperature, the monthly sum of precipitation and the mean monthly water level, proxy of ground water level), the water level of Danube river in May and the temperature in April were statistically related to the growth of the four tree groups: (i) pedunculate oak vital, (ii) pedunculate oak dead, (iii) Turkey oak vital and (iv) Turkey oak dead trees, for the period 1961-2010 (p<0.05, n=60).

Similar phenomena had already been observed in the Sava River basin for the growth of pure pedunculate oak forests. The long-term decline of the Danube River water level may be related to climate variations and to the changes of water management, river bed, as well as land-use. Together with the increase of temperature, this decline of the water level, and its potential unavailability in the soil, represents a serious challenge for the mixed oak forests silviculture in the Danube basin.


Quercus cerris; Quercus robur; dendroecology; Danube; dieback

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