Modelling exploration of the future of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) under climate change-Range, abundance, genetic diversity and adaptive response

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We explored impacts of climate change on the geographic distribution of European beech by applying state of the art statistical and process-based models, and assessed possible climate change impacts on both adaptive capacity in the centre of its distribution and adaptive responses of functional traits at the leading and trailing edge of the current distribution. The species area models agree that beech has the potential to expand its northern edge and loose habitat at the southern edge of its distribution in a future climate. The change in local population size in the centre of the distribution of beech has a small effect on the genetic diversity of beech, which is projected to maintain its current population size or to increase in population size. Thus, an adaptive response of functional traits of small populations at the leading and trailing edges of the distribution is possible based on genetic diversity available in the local population, even within a period of 2-3 generations. We conclude that the adaptive responses of key functional traits should not be ignored in climate change impact assessment on beech. Adaptation to the local environment may lead to genetic and phenotypic structured populations over the species area already in few generations, depending on the forest management system applied. We recommend taking local differentiation into account in a future generation of process-based species area models. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Koen Kramer
  • Bernd Degen
  • Jutta Buschbom
  • Thomas Hickler
  • Wilfried Thuiller
  • Martin Sykes
  • Wim de Winter
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography


  • Modelling, Adaptive response, diversity, Genetic, Abundance, Species area, Fagus sylvatica, Climate change, BIOMOD, LPJ-GUESS, Eco-Gene, ForGEM
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2213-2222
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch