Highlights: A height-sum function allowed us to compare the combined growth and survival of northernmost stands of pedunculate oak; Individuals from Turku-Katariinanlaakso performed the best, although other families performed more consistently across trials, which should be considered in future conservation and breeding. Surprisingly, trees planted in a trial location beyond the natural northern limit of pedunculate oak showed the best performance.
We analysed the adaptive potential of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) in terms of variation in height and survival in five field trials located in southern and central Finland. The trials were established with Finnish native material from six different seed origins. Thirteen years after planting, the number of living trees was counted and measured for height. Analysis of height and survival revealed a significant effect of origin, i.e., a genetic basis to individual tree performance. Two origins from the Turku region (Ruissalo and Katariinanlaakso) performed the best while trees originating from Parainen (Lenholmen) performed the worst. In order to study the effects due to tree origin, a comparison of families (half-sibling trees, i.e. those sharing the same ‘mother’ tree) was made by combining height and survival through a height-sum equation (i.e., the product of mean survival and height of each family in each trial) and used to calculate family- and origin-level ecovalences. Ecovalence is a metric for performance consistency, and indicates how much each variable contributes to the total variation; the higher the value, the lower the consistency of trees across the trials based on their origin or family. Analysis of consistency showed similar results to growth and survival, with Turku families performing the best and families from Parainen performing the worst. Families in the Katariinanlaakso stand (Turku) generally had more stable ecovalence values and more dispersed height-sums, while Ruissalo (Turku) families had higher mean height-sum but higher variability in ecovalence values. These results suggest that seed origins (i.e., genotypes) can be optimized in terms of their suitability for commercial or ecological forest management.