Tree and Forest Responses to Heat and Drought

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecophysiology and Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 May 2020) | Viewed by 4635

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, 602 Duncan Drive, Auburn, AL 36849-3418, USA
Interests: tree physiology; global change biology; forest ecology and management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Heatwaves and severe drought are an increasingly common feature of global climate change. Alone and in combination, these extreme climatic disturbances can strongly impact tree and forest function. At the tree scale, heat and drought can temporarily or permanently alter leaf- and canopy-scale carbon and water fluxes and weaken pathways for water and carbon transport. Maintenance of leaf cooling and hydraulic conductivity can strongly determine tree performance during and after heat and drought events. In some cases, extreme heat and severe drought can trigger mortality of leaves, stems, and entire trees. These severe disturbances can ultimately reduce forest productivity and alter carbon and nutrient cycling, with effects that lag for years or decades. These disturbances could also alter competitive interactions between and within species, leading to changes in forest community structure and composition. Although the impacts of heat and drought are well-recognized, our knowledge of the physiological mechanisms underlying inter- and intraspecific variation in tree responses to heatwaves and drought remains limited. Moreover, the importance of stand characteristics (age, density, genetic composition), management (fertilization, thinning), and the timing, scale, and severity of heat and drought remains understudied in forests in different regions of the globe. These knowledge gaps limit our ability to simulate and project heat and drought impacts on trees and forests over space and time. New knowledge is also needed to inform management decisions that improve forest resistance and resilience to heat and drought.

We invite manuscripts for a Special Issue on Tree and Forest Responses to Heat and Drought. We encourage the submission of manuscripts that provide new information on a broad range of topics, including: 1) mechanistic aspects of tree responses to heat and drought, including recovery; 2) inter- and intraspecific variation in tree responses to heat and drought; 3) heat and/or drought impacts on competitive interactions between trees; 4) interactive effects of heat and/or drought and forest management (e.g., thinning, fertilization); 5) the importance of heat and drought timing, frequency, and severity in different tree species and forest types; and 6) modeling approaches that improve simulations of heat and drought impacts on trees and forests. Suitable manuscripts may include robust observational studies, hypothesis-driven experiments or modeling exercises, and meta-analyses or reviews.

Dr. Michael J Aspinwall
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • carbon cycling
  • drought
  • forest management
  • heatwaves
  • photosynthesis
  • transpiration
  • water use

Published Papers (1 paper)

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24 pages, 5671 KiB  
Xylem Phenology and Growth Response of European Beech, Silver Fir and Scots Pine along an Elevational Gradient during the Extreme Drought Year 2018
by Elena Larysch, Dominik Florian Stangler, Mona Nazari, Thomas Seifert and Hans-Peter Kahle
Forests 2021, 12(1), 75; - 10 Jan 2021
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 4150
Highlights: European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) displayed parabolic elevational trends of the cessation of xylem cell differentiation phases. Xylem phenology and growth rates of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) appeared to be less influenced by [...] Read more.
Highlights: European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) displayed parabolic elevational trends of the cessation of xylem cell differentiation phases. Xylem phenology and growth rates of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) appeared to be less influenced by the 2018 drought, whereas beech reduced growth on the lowest elevation and fir seemed negatively affected in general. Background: The year 2018 was characterized by multiple drought periods and heat waves during the growing season. Our aim was to understand species-specific responses of xylem phenology and growth to drought and how this effect was modified along an elevational gradient. Materials and Methods: We sampled microcores and increment cores along an elevational gradient in the southwestern Black Forest (SW Germany) region and analyzed xylem phenology and growth response to drought. Results: Termination of cell enlargement and lignification occurred earliest in beech and latest in pine. Beech had the highest growth rates but shortest growth durations, fir achieved moderate rates and medium durations and pine had lowest growth rates despite long growth durations. In contrast to pine, onsets of cell differentiation phases of fir and beech did not show clear linear relationships with elevation. Cessation of cell production and lignification of beech and fir followed a parabolic elevational trend and occurred earliest on low elevations, whereas pine showed no changes with elevation. Tree-ring width, generally, depended 3–4 times more on the growth rate than on growth duration. Conclusions: The possibly drought-induced early cessation of cell differentiation and considerable growth reduction of beech appeared to be most severe on the lowest elevation. In comparison, growth reductions of fir were larger and seemed independent from elevation. We found evidence, that productivity might be severely affected at lower elevations, whereas at high elevations wood production might not equally benefit during global warming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tree and Forest Responses to Heat and Drought)
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