Adaptation to changing environment in Scots pine populations across a latitudinal gradient

Jacek Oleksyn, Mark G. Tjoelker, Peter B. Reich

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75 Scopus citations


In several growth chamber and field experiments we examined the growth response of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) populations from a wide latitudinal range to temperature and photoperiod. The duration of the shoot elongation period of on-year-old seedlings was affected by temperature and photoperiod. In contrasting temperatures, 23/20°C, 20/17°C, and 17/14°C (day/night), shoot elongation period for all populations was shortest in the high and longest in the low temperature treatments. The northern populations from 61-57°N ceased height growth earlier than the other populations in the southern 50°N photoperiod. The order of growth cessation among populations at 50°N in the chamber experiment and at 52°N in the field experiment was similar and related to observed population differences in terminal leader growth and total tree height. Since the length of growing season is under strong environmentally-mediated genetic control in Scots pine, potential climatic changes such as increasing temperature will probably alter the length and timing of growth in aboveground tree parts, but likely in the opposite direction (a shorter growing season) than has been often hypothesized (a longer growing season). Tree-ring analyses of a provenance experiment established in 1912 indicate that the main climatic factors that limited ring-width growth in Scots pine were air temperatures in the winter months of December through March. Low winter temperatures were followed by the formation of narrow rings over the next summer. Based on responses to temperature, Scots pine populations from the continuous European range can be divided in several geographic groups along a latitudinal gradient. Our results suggest that in developing new models to predict the response of Scots pine to changing environmental conditions, it is necessary to include intraspecific differentiation in acclimation and adaptation to environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-140
Number of pages12
JournalSilva Fennica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

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