Key drivers of competition and growth partitioning among Robinia pseudoacacia L. trees
Publication date: 15 December 2018
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 430
Author(s): Christin Carl, Peter Biber, Maik Veste, Dirk Landgraf, Hans Pretzsch
Competition for above- and below-ground resources depends on their availability and results in varied growth partitioning. This becomes clear as the supply and limitation of the main resources influence the slope of the size-growth relationship in stands. Nevertheless, growth partitioning among trees, especially among black locust (R. pseudoacacia) trees is not understood in sufficient detail. To scrutinize and estimate the mode of competition of R. pseudoacacia, this research analyzed 1333 trees in Germany in 10 study sites, consisting in total 27 sample plots, with similar climate but varying soil conditions. The stand age ranged from 2 to 32 years, with a diameter at breast height ranging from 0.6 to 29.1 cm. The main focus of the study was to evaluate the impact of nitrogen, phosphorus, and water supply on the competition mode of R. pseudoacacia by varying growth partitioning. We applied the size–growth relationship in a mixed-effects model with a random intercept and slope. Fixed effects were the basal area, phosphorus, water, the sunlight competition index, and the interactions between below- and above-ground resources. Site specific effects of the analyzed stands were quantified with the aid of the random effects. Depending on the supply and limitation of phosphorus and water, this study determined how the competition mode as well as the growth partitioning among R. pseudoacacia trees were influenced. Hence, if phosphorus and water availability increased, then the competition for above-ground resources (primarily sunlight) and the slope of the size–growth relationship increased. Large trees grew disproportionately more than smaller trees. If the available phosphorus and water decreased, then the competition for the below-ground resources increased and the slope of the size–growth relationship decreased – to be more flattened. Moreover, it was found that available nitrogen as a below-ground resource had no influence on the mode of competition. In summary, phosphorus was the most important nutrient and, together with water, was the main driver of growth partitioning among R. pseudoacacia trees.
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