, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 1057-1067

Characterization of the effects of inter-tree competition on source–sink balance in Chinese pine trees with the GreenLab model

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Abstract

We investigate the characteristics of individual tree response to competition on source–sink balance through the functional–structural plant model GreenLab. Four Chinese pine (Pinus tabulaeformis Carr.) trees were destructively sampled and were divided into two groups: high-density group and low-density group. First, the effects of density on organ dimensions and on organ relative mass were analysed based on experimental measurements. These were primary indicators of the plant response to competition. Second, the hidden parameters of the GreenLab model, as well as a tree-specific characteristic surface, were estimated using the data of total tree biomass for needle and wood compartments, for each of the four trees in parallel. The quality of the fitting is finally validated using data of individual organ mass at shoot level for the sampled branches. The Mann–Whitney Student’s t test showed that there were significant differences between the shoot attributes of the two groups for shoot diameter, shoot biomass and needle biomass. No significant difference was found for current year shoot lengths of the two groups. The parametric identification of the model allowed estimating and comparing the amount of biomass that was allocated to primary growth and to secondary growth in the two density conditions. It showed that biomass allocated to secondary growth (ring compartment) was the most strongly affected by density, and that the organ demand satisfaction ratio profiles of each of these trees were a relevant, integrated indicator of the tree state.

Communicated by R. Matyssek.