Adaptive Diversity of Beech Seedlings Under Climate Change Scenarios

Georgios Varsamis, Aristotelis C. Papageorgiou, Theodora Merou, Ioannis Takos, Chrisovalantis Malesios, Apostolos Manolis, Ioannis Tsiripidis, Oliver Gailing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of beech ( Fagus sylvatica L.) populations to adapt to the ongoing climate change is especially important in the southern part of Europe, where environmental change is expected to be more intense. In this study, we tested the existing adaptive potential of eight beech populations from two provenances in N.E. Greece (Evros and Drama) that show differences in their environmental conditions and biogeographical background. Seedling survival, growth and leaf phenological traits were selected as adaptive traits and were measured under simulated controlled climate change conditions in a growth chamber. Seedling survival was also tested under current conditions in the field. In the growth chamber, simulated conditions of temperature and precipitation for the year 2050 were applied for 3 years, under two different irrigation schemes, where the same amount of water was distributed either frequently (once every week) or non-frequently (once in 20 days). The results showed that beech seedlings were generally able to survive under climate change conditions and showed adaptive differences among provenances and populations. Furthermore, changes in the duration of the growing season of seedlings were recorded in the growth chamber, allowing them to avoid environmental stress and high selection pressure. Differences were observed between populations and provenances in terms of temporal distribution patterns of precipitation and temperature, rather than the average annual or monthly values of these measures. Additionally, different adaptive strategies appeared among beech seedlings when the same amount of water was distributed differently within each month. This indicates that the physiological response mechanisms of beech individuals are very complex and depend on several interacting parameters. For this reason, the choice of beech provenances for translocation and use in afforestation or reforestation projects should consider the small scale ecotypic diversity of the species and view multiple environmental and climatic parameters in connection to each other.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1918
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 Varsamis, Papageorgiou, Merou, Takos, Malesios, Manolis, Tsiripidis and Gailing. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • Adaptation
  • Common garden experiment
  • Fagus sp.
  • Height
  • Phenology
  • Survival


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