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Slow Growth Leads to Longevity in Temperate Hardwoods
Discovering, studying, and preserving old trees is a top priority for conserva-tion biology. We used tree- ring data from a high- mountain old- growth beech for-est to reconstruct long- term growth patterns in trees of maximum longevity for temperate hardwoods. In these stands, individual growth history is highly variable; one tree can take from one to seven centuries to reach a large size (>60 cm dbh). Slow but overall increasing long- term growth was found to be a prerequisite for extreme tree longevity. Growth suppression in early stages of life, together with limiting climatic conditions, also contributed to reaching maximum stem ages in these Mediterranean mountain environments.