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Keywords:

  • bioclimatic envelope models;
  • exotic species;
  • model validation;
  • no-analogue climates;
  • provenance trials;
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii ;
  • species distribution models

Abstract

We evaluate genetic test plantations of North American Douglas-fir provenances in Europe to quantify how tree populations respond when subjected to climate regime shifts, and we examined whether bioclimate envelope models developed for North America to guide assisted migration under climate change can retrospectively predict the success of these provenance transfers to Europe. The meta-analysis is based on long-term growth data of 2800 provenances transferred to 120 European test sites. The model was generally well suited to predict the best performing provenances along north–south gradients in Western Europe, but failed to predict superior performance of coastal North American populations under continental climate conditions in Eastern Europe. However, model projections appear appropriate when considering additional information regarding adaptation of Douglas-fir provenances to withstand frost and drought, even though the model partially fails in a validation against growth traits alone. We conclude by applying the partially validated model to climate change scenarios for Europe, demonstrating that climate trends observed over the last three decades warrant changes to current use of Douglas-fir provenances in plantation forestry throughout Western and Central Europe.