Modeling sapling distribution over time using a functional predictor in a generalized additive model

The effect of adult trees on sapling density distribution during the regeneration fellings is determined in a Pinus sylvestris L. Mediterranean forest using generalized additive models.

Context. Spatial pattern of adult trees determines the number of new individuals after regeneration fellings, which modify the light and air temperature under tree canopy.
Aims. We proposed a novel spatiotemporal model with a functional predictor in a generalized additive model framework to describe nonlinear relationships between the size of the adult trees and the number of saplings of P. sylvestris and to determine if the spatial pattern of the number of saplings remained constant or changed in time.
Methods. In 2001, two plots (0.5 ha) were set up in two phases of regeneration fellings under the group shelterwood method. We mapped the trees and saplings and measured their diameter and height. The inventories were repeated in 2006, 2010, and 2014.
Results. We found a negative association between the diameter of adult trees and number of saplings up to 7–8 m. Beyond these distances, the diameter of adult trees was not associated with the number of saplings. Our results indicate that the spatial pattern of the number of saplings remained quite constant in time.
Conclusion. The generalized additive models are a flexible tool to determine the distance range of inhibition of saplings by adult trees.

Edge effect, Intra-specific competition, Mountain forest, Shade tolerance, Mediterranean areas

Moreno-Fernández, D., Augustin, N.H., Montes, F. et al. Annals of Forest Science (2018) 75: 9.

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