Size-symmetric versus size-asymmetric competition and growth partitioning among trees in forest stands along an ecological gradient in central Europe

Hans Pretzsch, Peter Biber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations

Abstract

Current individual tree growth models rarely consider the mode of tree competition, which can be size-asymmetric when growth is limited by light or size-symmetric when belowground resources are scarce. Even with the same competition index, growth reactions may vary considerably due to a prevailing resource limitation, as the dominant trees in a stand benefit disproportionately more on light-limited sites. To scrutinize and model the relationship between mode of competition and site conditions, 34 long-term experiments with 120 plots dating back to 1871 were used. The data cover the dominating tree species in central Europe along a broad range of ecological conditions. For Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), and sessile oak (Quercus petrea (Matt.) Liebl.), stronger light competition can be shown on fertile sites compared with sites with poorer conditions. Based on these findings, we constructed an enhanced version of a classic potential modifier growth model. Simulations for archetypical stands yield a transition from size-asymmetric to size-symmetric competition along the gradient from fertile to poor sites that is not covered by traditional models. It was concluded that by integrating the interaction between competition and site quality, individual tree models become more site sensitive, a prerequisite for their application under fluctuating environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-384
Number of pages15
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2010

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