Research article

Establishing a baseline to monitor future climate-change-effects on peripheral populations of Abies alba in central Apennines

Fulvio Ducci , Anna De Rogatis, Roberta Proietti, Alexandru Lucian Curtu, Maurizio Marchi, Piero Belletti

Fulvio Ducci
Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis (CREA), Forestry and wood research centre. Email:
Anna De Rogatis
Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis (CREA), Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment
Roberta Proietti
Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis (CREA), Foretry and wood research centre
Alexandru Lucian Curtu
Transilvania University of Brasov Department of Silviculture
Maurizio Marchi
CNR - Institute of Biosciences and BioResources
Piero Belletti
University of Turin DI.S.A.F.A. Plant Genetics and Breeding

Online First: December 27, 2021
Ducci, F., De Rogatis, A., Proietti, R., Curtu, A., Marchi, M., Belletti, P. 2021. Establishing a baseline to monitor future climate-change-effects on peripheral populations of Abies alba in central Apennines. Annals of Forest Research DOI:10.15287/afr.2021.2281

Understanding tree species responses to climate change is crucial for preserving biodiversity especially in Southern Europe hot spots where Abies alba is widely spread. Three Apennine silver fir populations, Pigelleto (PIG), La Verna (LV) and Bocca Trabaria (BT), ensured gene flows in interglacial periods between the two phylogenetically different groups of northern and southern Apennines. These stands were analysed (nuclear and chloroplast SSRs) with the aim to establish a baseline for their future management in view of the expected changes. The three forests were tested for the Centre-Periphery Hypothesis (CPH) compared to forty-five Italian populations. At the same time, permanent areas were surveyed within LV and PIG on dominant (a) and dominated or natural regeneration (r) tree layers, and on age classes. In two consecutive years, spring cambial phenology activity was also weekly monitored on microcores, and critical phenology dates recorded. The stands matched CPH only partially, showing different phylogenetic history and their bridging between northern and southern groups of silver fir populations was confirmed. LV was distinct from PIG and BT. The within-population variance component was significantly high, and no narrow relatedness was observed between dominant and dominated/regeneration spatially closer trees, and genetic parameters were comparable in both layers at LV and PIG. In both stands, older age classes ensured natural regeneration. Cambium phenology was highly variable within populations, consistently to other Mediterranean conifers, and highly sensitive to local and year’s conditions and monitoring will improve population’s adaptive capacity detection. Shelterwood-system silvicultural treatments are suggested on small areas to drive the demographic and panmictic balance towards an uneven-aged more resilient structure, and iterated monitoring will help to adapt the forest management to the isotherm shift.

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