Impact of extreme drought and warming on survival and growth characteristics of different provenances of juvenile Quercus pubescens Willd.
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In the context of climatic changes, the adaptive potential of organisms toward new environmental challenges is becoming of central interest in modern ecology. Here we investigate the response of growth characteristics and survival in juveniles of four European provenances (Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Italy) of Quercus pubescens Willd. to extreme drought and warming in a full factorial common garden experiment. Our results show that extreme durations of drought exceed the tolerance of Quercus pubescens of all provenances. Plants of Italian provenance showed the highest capacity of whole-individual survival, and those of Bulgarian provenance showed the highest maintenance of the apex under extreme drought. Bud bank characteristics showed no general differences among provenances but responded to warming manipulations. The warming effect resulted in a reduction of collar buds and biomass. In Italian individuals it caused an increase of the apical budbank. This is suggestive of a better adaptation for height growth under warming. Our results imply that significant local adaptation of growth characteristics and survival occurs in Quercus pubescens. However, our findings do not support the idea that southern provenances are a general predictor of better plant performance.