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Keywords:

  • Acidic soil;
  • air warming;
  • amino acids;
  • calcareous soil;
  • drought;
  • nitrogen metabolites;
  • Quercus ;
  • soluble protein

Abstract

Climate-tolerant tree species and/or provenances have to be selected to ensure the high productivity of managed forests in Central Europe under the prognosticated climate changes. For this purpose, we studied the responses of saplings from three oak species (i.e. Quercus robur, Q. petraea and Q. pubescens) and provenances of different climatic origin (i.e. low or high rainfall, low or high temperature habitats) with regard to leaf nitrogen (N) composition as a measure of N nutrition. Saplings were grown in model ecosystems on either calcareous or acidic soil and subjected to one of four treatments (control, drought, air warming or a combination of drought and air warming). Across species, oak N metabolism responded to the influence of drought and/or air warming with an increase in leaf amino acid N concentration at the expense of structural N. Moreover, provenances or species from drier habitats were more tolerant to the climate conditions applied, as indicated by an increase in amino acid N (comparing species) or soluble protein N (comparing provenances within a species). Furthermore, amino acid N concentrations of oak leaves were significantly higher on calcareous compared to acidic soil. From these results, it can be concluded that seeds from provenances or species originating from drier habitats and – if available – from calcareous soil types may provide a superior seed source for future forest establishment.