Sustainable forest management has to consider the long-term effects of climate change on species growth to develop adaptation measures. In this perspective, dendrochronology provides valuable information on climate-growth relationships over long time periods. Tree-ring analyses in mixed stands can elucidate how different species respond to climate change within the same environmental conditions. However, few studies have investigated such stands, especially in South-Eastern Europe. In the forest reserve of Lom, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we had the opportunity to study three co-occurring species (silver fir, Norway spruce, European beech) in an old-growth forest characterized by reduced human and natural disturbances, and a climate favourable to the tree species. We evaluated tree growth response to climate on inter-annual and decadal time scales over about 250. years. Response to inter-annual climate variability changed over the study period. Climate signal in beech was generally low, with a negative correlation to April temperature in the last decades. In fir and spruce, the positive effect of current year's spring temperature decreased, while the negative effect of the previous summer temperature considerably increased over the last century. At the decadal scale, different responses have been detected among species: spruce was mostly negatively affected by summer temperature whereas summer precipitation benefited fir growth, probably balancing high evapotranspiration. Beech showed a peculiar delayed response, and protracted drought periods led to severe growth reductions. Despite a temperature increase over the last three decades, fir did not experience any growth reduction, while a strong decline was evident in spruce and beech productivity. Mesic sites are commonly underrepresented in tree-ring research. In our analysis, covering about 250. years, we observed that climate also affects species-specific growth patterns in these areas. Within a global change perspective, specific divergent responses are likely to occur even where current environmental conditions appear to be not limiting for tree species. Future management strategies should consider these outcomes. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
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