Disentangling the Legacies of Climate and Management on Tree Growth

Laura Marqués, Drew M.P. Peltier, J. Julio Camarero, Miguel A. Zavala, Jaime Madrigal-González, Gabriel Sangüesa-Barreda, Kiona Ogle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Legacies of past climate conditions and historical management govern forest productivity and tree growth. Understanding how these processes interact and the timescales over which they influence tree growth is critical to assess forest vulnerability to climate change. Yet, few studies address this issue, likely because integrated long-term records of both growth and forest management are uncommon. We applied the stochastic antecedent modelling (SAM) framework to annual tree-ring widths from mixed forests to recover the ecological memory of tree growth. We quantified the effects of antecedent temperature and precipitation up to 4 years preceding the year of ring formation and integrated management effects with records of harvesting intensity from historical forest management archives. The SAM approach uncovered important time periods most influential to growth, typically the warmer and drier months or seasons, but variation among species and sites emerged. Silver fir responded primarily to past climate conditions (25–50 months prior to the year of ring formation), while European beech and Scots pine responded mostly to climate conditions during the year of ring formation and the previous year, although these responses varied among sites. Past management and climate interacted in such a way that harvesting promoted growth in young silver fir under wet and warm conditions and in old European beech under drier and cooler conditions. Our study shows that the ecological memory associated with climate legacies and historical forest management is species-specific and context-dependent, suggesting that both aspects are needed to properly evaluate forest functioning under climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-235
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Abies alba
  • Ecological memory
  • Fagus sylvatica
  • Forest management
  • Legacy effects
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Spanish Pyrenees
  • Tree growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Chemistry


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