Response of rare and endangered species Picea omorika to climate change - The need for speed

  • Vladan Ivetić University of Belgrade - Faculty of Forestry
  • Jelena Aleksić University of Belgrade, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering (IMGGE), Belgrade, Serbia
Keywords: Picea omorika, Climate change, In-situ conservation, Ex-situ conservation, Assisted migration


Serbian spruce (Picea omorika (Pančić) Purk.) is a rare and endangered tertiary relict and endemic species, with restricted and fragmented natural range in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, mainly around the mid-course of the Drina river. Since the middle of the 19th century, its natural range declines constantly, followed by a decline in the number of mature individuals. The decline of this forest species is slow and mainly attributed to poor regeneration and low competing ability. Given the foreseen worsening of the climate in forthcoming decades, this decline can only accelerate. In recent years, dieback related to drought has been observed as response to extreme weather events suggesting that Serbian spruce will face difficulties in adapting to climate change within its natural range. However, successful use of Serbian spruce in Central and Northern Europe indicates potentially large adaptive potential of this species which, along with the high genetic variability, outweigh the limited morphological variation, self-fertilization, and limitations related to the restricted natural range in the first place, and, indicates possible directions of migration in the second place. In this paper, current conservation actions are discussed, and strategies for the species survival in a changing environment are suggested. Since migration and adaptation are the least likely responses of this species to climate change, measures such as assisted migration may be the only strategy which will enable persistence of Serbian spruce. Current conservation programs, limited to in-situ actions, need to be supplemented with ex-situ actions and strategies. In the worst case scenario, i.e. for species such as Serbian spruce which are unable to migrate and/or adapt to changing climate, the most suitable sites should be identified and colonized in order to prevent extinction in the near future.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Vladan Ivetić, University of Belgrade - Faculty of Forestry
Head of Chair for Seed and Seedlings Production and Afforestation Director of Institute of Forests and Forestry President of Reforesta Society


Aleksić MJ, Geburek T (2014) Quaternary population dynamics of an endemic conifer, Picea omorika, and their conservation implications. Conservation Genetics 15:87–107.

Aleksić MJ, Geburek T (2010) Mitochondrial DNA reveals complex genetic structuring in a stenoendemic conifer Picea omorika [(PanÄ.) Purk.] caused by its long persistence within the refugial Balkan region. Plant Syst Evol 285:1–11.

Aleksić MJ, Schueler S, Mengl M, Geburek T (2009) EST-SSRs developed for other Picea species amplify in Picea omorika and reveal high genetic variation in two natural populations. Belg J Bot 142:89–95.

Ballian D, Longauer R, Mikić T, Paule L, Kajba D, Gömöry D (2006) Genetic structure of a rare European conifer, Serbian spruce (Picea omorika (PanÄić) Purk.). Plant Syst Evol 260:53–63.

Beaulieu J, Rainville A (2005) Adaptation to climate change: genetic variation is both a short- and a long-term solution. Forest Chron 81:704-709.

Breed MF, Stead MG, Ottewell KM, Gardner MG, Lowe AJ (2012) Which provenance and where? Seed sourcing strategies for revegetation in a changing environment. Conserv Genet 14:1-10.

Broadhurst LM, Lowe A, Coates DJ, Cunningham SA, McDonald M, Vesk PA, Yates C (2008) Seed supply for broadscale restoration: maximizing evolutionary potential. Evol Appl 1:587-597.

Atondo-Bueno EJ, López-Barrera F, Bonilla-Moheno M, Williams-Linera G, Ramírez N (2016) Direct seeding of Oreomunnea mexicana, a threatened tree species from Southeastern Mexico. New Forests 47:845-860.

Bigras FJ, Ryyppö A, Lindstöm A and Stattin E (2001) Cold acclimation and deacclimation of shoots and roots of conifer seedlings. In: Bigras FJ and Colombo SJ (eds), Conifer Cold Hardiness. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 57–88.

Buiteveld J (2012) First National Report on Forest Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture The Netherlands Country report for the FAO First State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Ministry of Economic Affairs The Hague, November 2012.

Cejpek J, Kuráž V, Frouz J (2013) Hydrological Properties of Soils in Reclaimed and Unreclaimed Sites after Brown-Coal Mining. Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 22(3): 645-652.

Chakraborty D, Wang T, Andre K, Konnert M, Lexer MJ, Matulla C, Schueler S (2015) Selecting populations for non-analogous climate conditions using universal response functions: The case of Douglas-fir in central Europe. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0136357.

ÄŒolić D (1951) Å umski rezervati Picea omorica PanÄić = Forest reserves of Picea omorica PanÄić. – Å umarstvo, IV (1); 20-34. Summ.

ÄŒolić D (1957) Neki pionirski karakteri PanÄićeve omorike i njena uloga u sukcesiji biljnih zajednica. Archives des sciences bioloqiques 9(1–4):51–60 (in Serbian with English and German summary).

David A J, Keathley DE (1996) Inheritance of mitochondrial DNA in interspecific crosses of Picea glauca and Picea omorika. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 26(3), 428-432.

Dumroese RK, Williams MI, Stanturf JA, St Clair JB (2015) Considerations for restoring temperate forests of tomorrow: forest restoration, assisted migration, and bioengineering. New Forest 46:947-964.

Fukarek P (1956) ZaÅ¡tita endemne PanÄićeve omorike u NR Bosni i Hercegovini. GodiÅ¡njak Zemaljskog zavoda za zaÅ¡titu spomenika kulture i prirodnih rijetkosti NR Bosne i Hercegovine. NaÅ¡e starine, III, 289-298.

Gajić M, Vilotić D, Karadžić D, Mihajlović L, Isajev V (1994) Serbian spruce—Picea omorika (PanÄić) PurkynÄ• on the territory of the National Park Tara. The National Park Tara, Bajina BaÅ¡ta and the Faculty of Forestry, Belgrade (in Serbian).

Geburek T (1986) Some results of inbreeding depression in Serbian spruce (Picea omorica (PanÄ.) Purk.). Silvae Genet 35:169–172

Gray LK, Hamann A (2011) Strategies for reforestation under uncertain future climates: Guidelines for Alberta, Canada. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22977.

Gray LK, Hamann A (2013) Tracking suitable habitat for tree populations under climate change in western North America. Climatic Change 117: 289-303.

Hazubska-Przybył T, Bojarczuk K (2008) Somatic embryogenesis of selected spruce species (Picea abies, P. omorika, P. pungens ‘Glauca’ and P. breweriana). Acta Soc Bot Pol 77:189–199.

Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia (2013) (Accessed online: 09.11.2016)

Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia (2015) (Accessed online: 09.11.2016)

Isajev V (1987) Oplemenjivanje omorike (Picea omorika /PanÄ./ Purkyne) na genetsko selekcionim osnovama. Doktorska disertacija, Å umarski fakultet Univerziteta u Beogradu, Beograd.

Isaac-Renton MG, Roberts DR, Hamann A, Spiecker H (2014) Douglas-fir plantations in Europe: A retrospective test of assisted migration to address climate change. Global Change Biol 20: 2607-2617.

Ivetić V, Devetaković J (2016) Reforestation challenges in Southeast Europe facing climate change. Reforesta 1: 178-220.

Ivetić V, Devetaković J, Nonić M, Stanković D, Å ijaÄić-Nikolić M (2016) Genetic diversity and forest reproductive material - from seed source selection to planting. iForest 9: 801-812.

Ivetić V (2015) Reforestation in Serbia: Success or failure? In: Ivetić V, Stanković D (eds.) Proceedings: International conference Reforestation Challenges. 03-06 June 2015, Belgrade, Serbia. Reforesta. pp 1-12.

Jezdimirović J (2016) Reconstruction of Serbian spruce seed orchard in Godovik. [In Serbian: РеконÑтрукција ÑеменÑке плантаже Панчићеве оморике у Годовику] 67 p.

Jovanović B (2000) Dendrologija. Udžbenik, šesto dopunjeno izdanje, Univerzitet u Beogradu, Šumarski fakultet. Beograd.

Kasesalu H (2002) Serbian spruce (Picea omorika (Panchic) Purkyne) in Estonia. In: Dendrological researches in Estonia III (Estonia). Estonian Agricultural University, Tartu (Estonia). Forest Research Institute. (no.3) 171-177.

KeÄa N (2010) The test of eight tree species resistance to the attack of Armillaria mellea and A. ostoyae by artificial infection. Bulletin of the Faculty of Forestry 102: 41-56. [In Serbian, Summary in English]

Kolarović S (1951) NalaziÅ¡ta i stanje PanÄićeve omorike u NR Srbiji - Å umarstvo, Beograd 4(1): 27-34.

Koskela J, Vinceti B, Dvorak W, Bush D, Dawson IK, Loo J, Kjaer ED, Navarro C, Padolina C, Borda´cs S, Jamnadass R, Graudal L, Ramamonjisoa L (2014) Utilization and transfer of forest genetic resources: a global review. Forest Ecol Manag 333:22–34.

Král D (2002) Assessing the growth of Picea omorika [PanÄ.] PurkynÄ› in the Masaryk Forest Training Forest Enterprise at KÅ™tiny Journal of Forest science 48 (9): 388–398.

Kuittinen H, Muona O, Karkkainen K, Borzan Ž (1991) Serbian spruce, a narrow endemic, contains much genetic variation. Canadian Journal of Forestry Resources 21:363–367.

Kuittinen H, Savolainen O (1992) Picea omorika is a self fertile but outcrossing conifer. Heredity 68: 183–187.

Hamann A, Gylander T, Chen P (2011) Developing seed zones and transfer guidelines with multivariate regression trees. Tree Genet Genomes 7:399-408.

Laborde J, Corrales-Ferrayola I (2012) Direct seeding of Brosimum alicastrum Sw. (Moraceae) and Enterolobium cyclocarpum (Jacq.) Griseb. (Mimosaceae) in different habitats in the dry tropics of central Veracruz. Acta botánica Mexicana, (100), 107-134.

Langner W (1959) Ergebnisse Einiger Hybridisierrungsversuche Zwischen Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr. und Picea omorika (Pancic) Purkyne. Silvae Genet. 8:138-143.

Mataruga M, Isajev V, Lazarev V, Balotić P, DaniÄić V (2005) Registar Å¡umskih sjemenskih objekata RS-osnova unapreÄ‘enja sjemenske proizvodnje, Å umarski fakultet, Banja Luka, p: 1-222. ISBN 99938-56-03-7.

Mataruga M, Isajev V, Gardner M, Christian T, Thomas P (2011) Picea omorika. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T30313A9532613.

Meyer H (1960) The Serbian Spruce, P. omorika, a species to supplement the scanty tree flora of Germany. Arch. Forstw. 9(7):595-614.

Mihaljević S, Jelaska S (2005) Omorica spruce (Picea omorica). In: Jain, S.M. & Gupta P. (Ed(s).). Protocol for somatic embryogenesis in woody plants. Forestry Sciences, 77(4):35-46. Springer-Verlag.

Mikkola L (1972) Crossability between Picea omorika (PanÄicÌ€) Purkyne and P. glauca (Moench) Voss Annales Botanici Fennici 9 (1):33-36.

Milovanović J, Å ijaÄić-Nikolić M (2010) Characterization of Serbian Spruce Variability Applying Isoenzyme Markers. Biotechnology & Biotechnological Equipment 24(1):1600-1605.

Mitchell AF (1975) Conifers in the British Isles: A Descriptive Handbook. HMSO, London. 322 p.

Møller PF (2013) Opportunities and problems with introduced tree species in the Danish forests – in a historical perspective.

Muona O, Yazdani R, Rudin D (1987) Genetic change between life stages in Pinus sylvestris: allozyme variation in seeds and planted seeldings. Silvae Genetica 35:39–42.

Nasri N, Bojović S, Vendramin GG, Fady B (2008) Population genetic structure of the relict Serbian spruce, Picea omorika, inferred from plastid DNA. Plant Syst Evol 271:1–7.

Nielsen UB, Roulund H (1992) Sitkahybrider [Sitkahybrids]. Skoven 24:72-75.

Nienstaedt H (1977) Mass production alternatives for fast-growing spruce hybrids. In: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Lake States Forest Tree Improvement Conference; Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-50. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 56-71.

Nymoen H (1978) Picea omorika is not an alternative to P. sitchensis in afforestation. Norsk Skogbruk 24 (4):15-16.

Ødum S (1991) Choice of Species and Origins for Arboriculture in Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Copenhagen, Denmark: Dansk Dendrologisk Forening.

Ostojić D, Dinić A (2012) Rezervati prirode sa omorikom u Srbiji - osnovne karakteristike i zaštita. Zaštita prirode 62, (2):5-17.

Ostojić D, Dinić A (2009) Experimental phytocoenological investigations of Serbian spruce (Picea omorika /PanÄić/ PurkynÄ•) natural regeneration in the national park Tara. Å umarstvo 2009 (1-2):23-35.

Pintarić K (1999) Forestry and forest reserves in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In: Dijaci J (ed) Virgin forests and forest reserves in Central and East European Countries, COST Action E4: Forest Reserves Research Network; Department of Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources, Biotechnical Faculty Ljubljana, pp 1–15.

Potter MK, Hargrove WW (2012) Determining suitable locations for seed transfer under climate change: a global quantitative method. New Forest 43:581-599.

Prober SM, Byrne M, McLean EH, Steane DA, Potts BM, Vaillancourt RE, Stock WD (2015) Climate-adjusted provenancing: A strategy for climate-resilient ecological restoration. Front Ecol Evol 3: 65.

Roulund H (1971) Observations on spontaneous hybridization in Picea omorika (Pancic) Purkyne. For. Tree Improv. 2:2-17.

Sander H, Meikar T (Received January 2009) Exotic Coniferous Trees in Estonian Forestry after 1918. Allg. Forst- u. J.-Ztg., 180. Jg., 7/8: 158-169.

Schemske DW, Lande R (1985) The evolution of self-fertilization and inbreeding depression in plants. II. Empirical observations. Evolution 39:41–52.

Schmidt P, Tegeler R (2014) Rare and other remarkable trees in nature and cultivation in Germany. Annals of agrarian science, 11(2), 88-91. Retrieved from

Sippel S, Otto F (2014) Beyond climatological extremes - assessing how the odds of hydrometeorological extreme events in South-East Europe change in a warming climate. Climatic Change 125: 381-398.

Tucić B, Stojković B (2001) Shade avoidance syndrome in Picea omorika seedlings: a growth-room experiment. J Evol Biol 14:444–455.

Tucić B, Pemac D, Ducić J (2005) Life history responses to irradiance at the early seedling stage of Picea omorika (Pancic) Purkynhe: adaptiveness and evolutionary limits. Acta Oecologica-International J. Ecol. 27: 185-195.

Tucović A, Isajev V (1988) Generativna semenska plantaža omorike u Godoviku, IzvoÄ‘aÄki projekat. Beograd, 1-40.

Vidaković M (1963) MeÄ‘uvrsno ukrÅ¡tanje PanÄićeve omorike (Picea omorika /PanÄ./ Purkyne) sa sitkanskom smrÄom (Picea sithensis (Bong.) Cariére). Å umarstvo. Beograd. p:337–342.

Vidaković M (1982) ÄŒetinjaÄe – Morfologija i varijabilnost. JAZU & Liber, Zagreb. 711 pp.

Wang T, O’Neill GA, Aitken SN (2010) Integrating environmental and genetic effects to predict responses of tree populations to climate. Ecol Appl 20: 153-163.

Widrlechner MP, Hasselkus ER, Herman DE, lies JK, Pair JC, Paparozzi ET, Schutzki RE, Wildung DK (1992) Performance of Landscape Plants from Yugoslavia in the North Central United States J. Environ. Hort. 10(4):192-198.

Williams MI, Dumroese RK (2013) Preparing for climate change: Forestry and assisted migration. J Forest 111: 287-297.

Zehetmayr JWL (1954) Experiments in tree planting on peat. Forest. Commi. Bull. 22, 110 p. London.

How to Cite
Ivetić, V., & Aleksić, J. (2016). Response of rare and endangered species Picea omorika to climate change - The need for speed. REFORESTA, (2), 81-99.
SPECIAL ISSUE: Bragança 2016