Effects of local neighbourhood diversity on crown structure and productivity of individual trees in mature mixed-species forests

Louis Georgi, Matthias Kunz, Andreas Fichtner, Karl Friedrich Reich, Anne Bienert, Hans-Gerd Maas, Goddert von Oheimb
2021 Forest Ecosystems  
Background Species-specific genotypic features, local neighbourhood interactions and resource supply strongly influence the tree stature and growth rate. In mixed-species forests, diversity-mediated biomass allocation has been suggested to be a fundamental mechanism underlying the positive biodiversity-productivity relationships. Empirical evidence, however, is rare about the impact of local neighbourhood diversity on tree characteristics analysed at a very high level of detail. To address this
more » ... issue we analysed these effects on the individual-tree crown architecture and tree productivity in a mature mixed forest in northern Germany. Methods Our analysis considers multiple target tree species across a local neighbourhood species richness gradient ranging from 1 to 4. We applied terrestrial laser scanning to quantify a large number of individual mature trees (N = 920) at very high accuracy. We evaluated two different neighbour inclusion approaches by analysing both a fixed radius selection procedure and a selection based on overlapping crowns. Results and conclusions We show that local neighbourhood species diversity significantly increases crown dimension and wood volume of target trees. Moreover, we found a size-dependency of diversity effects on tree productivity (basal area and wood volume increment) with positive effects for large-sized trees (diameter at breast height (DBH) > 40 cm) and negative effects for small-sized (DBH < 40 cm) trees. In our analysis, the neighbour inclusion approach has a significant impact on the outcome. For scientific studies and the validation of growth models we recommend a neighbour selection by overlapping crowns, because this seems to be the relevant scale at which local neighbourhood interactions occur. Because local neighbourhood diversity promotes individual-tree productivity in mature European mixed-species forests, we conclude that a small-scale species mixture should be considered in management plans.
doi:10.1186/s40663-021-00306-y fatcat:ah3yxczm6vctlfdvm4grpnfd3q