Tree potential growth varies more than competition among spontaneously established forest stands of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur)

Key message

Analyses of dendrochronological data from 15 recently established tablished stands of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) revealed that functions describing potential tree growth in the absence of neighbours varied more between stands than functions describing competitive effects of conspecific neighbours. This suggests that competition functions can more easily be transferred among stands than potential growth functions.


Context The variability inherent in the natural establishment of tree stands raises the question whether one can find general models for potential growth and competition that hold across stands.
Aims We investigated variation in potential growth and competition among recently established stands of Q. robur and tested whether this variation depends on stand structure. We also tested whether competition is symmetric or asymmetric and whether it is density-dependent or size-dependent. Lastly, we examined whether between-year growth variation is synchronous among stands.
Methods Potential growth, competition and between-year growth variation were quantified with statistical neighbourhood models. Model parameters were estimated separately for each stand using exhaustive mapping and dendrochronology data.
Results Competition was best described with an asymmetric size-dependent model. Functions describing potential growth varied more among forest stands than competition functions. Parameters determining these functions could not be explained by stand structure. Moreover, annual growth rates showed only moderate synchrony across stands.
Conclusion The substantial between-stand variability in potential growth needs to be considered when assessing the functioning, ecosystem services and management of recently established Q. robur stands. In contrast, the relative constancy of competition functions should facilitate their extrapolation across stands.

Interpopulation variability; Distance and size dependence; Neighbourhood effect; Interannual variability; Bayesian modelling

Lamonica, D., Pagel, J., Valdés-Correcher, E. et al. Tree potential growth varies more than competition among spontaneously established forest stands of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). Annals of Forest Science 77, 80 (2020).

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Data availability
Tree growth data are now available at the following url address

Handling Editor
Irene Martín-Forés (Guest Editor)

Topical Collection
This article is part of the Topical Collection “Establishment of second-growth forests in human landscapes: ecological mechanisms and genetic consequences

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