The balance between facilitation and competition in mixtures of Eucalyptus and Acacia changes as stands develop
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- Forrester, D.I., Vanclay, J.K. & Forrester, R.I. Oecologia (2011) 166: 265. doi:10.1007/s00442-011-1937-9
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The balance between facilitation and competition is likely to change with age due to the dynamic nature of nutrient, water and carbon cycles, and light availability during stand development. These processes have received attention in harsh, arid, semiarid and alpine ecosystems but are rarely examined in more productive communities, in mixed-species forest ecosystems or in long-term experiments spanning more than a decade. The aim of this study was to examine how inter- and intraspecific interactions between Eucalyptus globulus Labill. mixed with Acacia mearnsii de Wildeman trees changed with age and productivity in a field experiment in temperate south-eastern Australia. Spatially explicit neighbourhood indices were calculated to quantify tree interactions and used to develop growth models to examine how the tree interactions changed with time and stand productivity. Interspecific influences were usually less negative than intraspecific influences, and their difference increased with time for E. globulus and decreased with time for A. mearnsii. As a result, the growth advantages of being in a mixture increased with time for E. globulus and decreased with time for A. mearnsii. The growth advantage of being in a mixture also decreased for E. globulus with increasing stand productivity, showing that spatial as well as temporal dynamics in resource availability influenced the magnitude and direction of plant interactions.