Spatial patterns and broad-scale weather cues of beech mast seeding in Europe.12 Dec 2017
Mast seeding is a crucial population process in many tree species, but its spatio-temporal patterns and drivers at the continental scale remain unknown . Using a large dataset (8000 masting observations across Europe for years 1950-2014) we analysed the spatial pattern of masting across the entire geographical range of European beech, how it is influenced by precipitation, temperature and drought, and the temporal and spatial stability of masting-weather correlations. Beech masting exhibited a general distance-dependent synchronicity and a pattern structured in three broad geographical groups consistent with continental climate regimes. Spearman's correlations and logistic regression revealed a general pattern of beech masting correlating negatively with temperature in the summer 2 yr before masting, and positively with summer temperature 1 yr before masting (i.e. 2T model). The temperature difference between the two previous summers (DeltaT model) was also a good predictor. Moving correlation analysis applied to the longest eight chronologies (74-114 yr) revealed stable correlations between temperature and masting, confirming consistency in weather cues across space and time. These results confirm widespread dependency of masting on temperature and lend robustness to the attempts to reconstruct and predict mast years using temperature data.