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Black alder (Alnus glutinosa [L.] Gaertn.) is an important component of riparian and wetland ecosystems in Europe. However, data on the growth of this significant broadleaved tree species is very limited. Presently, black alder currently suffers from the pathogen Phytophthora and is particularly threatened by climate change. The objective of this study was to focus on the impact of climatic variables (precipitation, temperature, extreme climatic events) on the radial growth of alder across its geographic range during the period 1975–2015. The study of alder stands aged 46–108 years was conducted on 24 research plots in a wide altitude range (85–1015 m) in 12 countries of Europe and Asia. The most significant months affecting alder radial growth were February and March, where air temperatures are more significant than precipitation. Heavy frost and extreme weather fluctuations in the first quarter of the year were the main limiting factors for diameter increment. Within the geographical setting, latitude had a higher effect on radial growth compared to longitude. However, the most important variable concerning growth parameters was altitude. The temperature’s effect on the increment was negative in the lowlands and yet turned to positive with increasing altitude. Moreover, growth sensitivity to precipitation significantly decreased with the increasing age of alder stands. In conclusion, the growth variability of alder and the number of negative pointer years increased with time, which was caused by the ongoing climate change and also a possible drop in the groundwater level. Riparian alder stands well supplied with water are better adapted to climatic extremes compared to plateau and marshy sites.

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Life Sciences, Plant Science, Ecology, other