Bigler Christof

Climatic and topographic effects on mortality processes of mountain pine in the Swiss National Park
Klimatische und topographische Einflüsse auf Absterbeprozesse von Bergföhren im Schweizerischen Nationalpark

Project Number: CH-3841
Project Type: Research_Project
Project Duration: 06/01/2009 - 12/31/2015 project completed
Funding Source: other , ETH ,
Project Leader: Dr. Christof Bigler
Forest Ecology
Dept. Umweltsystemwissenschaften (D-USYS)
ETH Zürich
Universitätstrasse 22
8092 Zürich
Phone: +41 (0) 44 632 52 05 ; +41 (0) 44 632 25 23
FAX: +41 (0) 44 632 13 58
e-Mail: christof.bigler(at)

related to this project.
for which the project has a relevance.

Research Areas:

environmental sciences
general biology

Dendroecology; tree rings; tree growth; tree mortality; forest decline; climate variability; drought; water deficits; topography; mountain pine (Pinus montana = Pinus mugo var. uncinata); subalpine forests; Swiss National Park

Tree mortality processes may have rapid and long-lasting effects on the structure and species composition of forest stands as well as on demographic properties of tree populations. In the Swiss National Park, different studies have focused mainly on influences of competition and pathogens on mortality processes of mountain pine (Pinus mugo var. uncinata). However, effects of climate variability and particularly extreme climate events (drought, heatwaves, frost) on growth patterns and tree mortality have rarely been investigated, although it is known from other studies that mortality rates may increase for example during and following drought years. In the Swiss National Park with its continental climate, extreme climate events such as low precipitation or high temperatures have occurred relatively frequently in the last few years.
The objective of the proposed research is to investigate the effects of climate variability and topography on growth patterns and mortality processes of mountain pine in the Swiss National Park. About 200 dead, standing mountain pine trees and about 30 living mountain pine trees will be cored in 20 plots on different aspects. Tree rings will be measured and dated in the tree-ring lab. The impact of climate on site-specific growth patterns and distributions of death dates will be investigated using descriptive and analytical methods. The Swiss National Park is particularly suitable for this investigation, because the mountain pine stands have developed without human disturbances since the foundation of the park – unlike managed forests – and thus climatic impacts have unaffectedly acted on processes of forest dynamics.


Bigler, C. and Rigling, (A. 2013): Precision and accuracy of tree-ring-based death dates of mountain pines in the Swiss National Park. Trees - Structure and Function 27:1703-1712.

Bigler, C. (2016): Trade-offs between growth rate, tree size and lifespan of mountain pine (Pinus montana) in the Swiss National Park. PLoS One 11 (3):e0150402. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150402

Last update: 7/18/17
Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2020)
Update the data of project: CH-3841

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