The GenTree Platform: growth traits and tree-level environmental data in 12 European forest tree species
Background: Progress in the field of evolutionary forest ecology has been hampered by the huge challenge of phenotyping trees across their ranges in their natural environments, and the limitation in high-resolution environmental information. Findings: The GenTree Platform contains phenotypic and environmental data from 4,959 trees from 12 ecologically and economically important European forest tree species:Abies alba Mill. (silver fir), Betula pendula Roth. (silver birch), Fagus sylvatica L. (European beech), Picea abies (L.) H. Karst (Norway spruce), Pinus cembra L. (Swiss stone pine), Pinus halepensis Mill. (Aleppo pine), Pinus nigra Arnold (European black pine), Pinus pinaster Aiton (maritime pine), Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots pine), Populus nigra L. (European black poplar), Taxus baccata L. (English yew), and Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl. (sessile oak). Phenotypic (height, diameter at breast height, crown size, bark thickness, biomass, straightness, forking, branch angle,fructification), regeneration, environmental in situ measurements (soil depth, vegetation cover, competition indices), and environmental modeling data extracted by using bilinear interpolation accounting for surrounding conditions of each tree (precipitation, temperature, insolation, drought indices) were obtained from trees in 194 sites covering the species’geographic ranges and reflecting local environmental gradients. Conclusion: The GenTree Platform is a new resource for investigating ecological and evolutionary processes in forest trees. The coherent phenotyping and environmental characterization across 12 species in their European ranges allow for a wide range of analyses from forest ecologists, conservationists, and macro-ecologists. Also, the data here presented can be linked to the GenTree Dendroecological collection, the GenTree Leaf Trait collection, and the GenTree Genomic collection presented elsewhere, which together build the largest evolutionary forest ecology data collection available.