Effect of summer drought on the increment of beech trees in southern England
There is concern over the effects of recent summer droughts on the health of beech (Fagus sylvaticaL.) trees growing in southern England. Climate change scenarios suggest that such droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe. To inform species selection it is important to have direct evidence for the growth response of beech to drought, and its relationship with site and soil conditions. A pilot-scale increment coring study was carried out in 2005 to investigate the response of mature beech trees in southern England to summer droughts during the past 40 years. Evidence emerged of widespread, but usually short-term, reductions in the rate of increment of mature beech following drought years. A minority of sites showed more persistent declines.