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Across a macro-ecological gradient forest competition is strongest at the most productive sites


Prior, LD and Bowman, DMJS, Across a macro-ecological gradient forest competition is strongest at the most productive sites, Frontiers in Plant Science, 5 Article 260. ISSN 1664-462X (2014) [Refereed Article]


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Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

DOI: doi:10.3389/fpls.2014.00260


We tested the hypothesis that the effect of forest basal area on tree growth interacts with macro-ecological gradients of primary productivity, using a large dataset of eucalypt tree growth collected across temperate and sub- tropical mesic Australia. To do this, we derived an index of inter-tree competition based on stand basal area (stand BA) relative to the climatically determined potential basal area. Using linear mixed effects modeling, we found that the main effects of climatic productivity, tree size, and competition explained 26.5% of the deviance in individual tree growth, but adding interactions to the model could explain a further 8.9%. The effect of competition on growth interacts with the gradient of climatic productivity, with negligible effect of competition in low productivity environments, but marked negative effects at the most productive sites. We also found a positive interaction between tree size and stand BA, which was most pronounced in the most productive sites. We interpret these patterns as reflecting intense competition for light amongst maturing trees on more productive sites, and below ground moisture limitation at low productivity sites, which results in open stands with little competition for light. These trends are consistent with the life history and stand development of eucalypt forests: in cool moist environments, light is the most limiting resource, resulting in size-asymmetric competition, while in hot, low rainfall environments are open forests with little competition for light but where the amount of tree regeneration is limited by water availability.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Eucalyptus, climate, diameter increment, tree size, competition, basa larea
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Landscape ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems
UTAS Author:Prior, LD (Dr Lynda Prior)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:94124
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2014-08-29
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:405 View Download Statistics

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