, Volume 176, Issue 3, pp 739–749 | Cite as

Influence of shade tolerance and development stage on the allometry of ten temperate tree species

  • Tony FranceschiniEmail author
  • Robert Schneider
Physiological ecology - Original research


Allometry studies the change in scale between two dimensions of an organism. The metabolic theory of ecology predicts invariant allometric scaling exponents, while empirical studies evidenced inter- and intra-specific variations. This work aimed at identifying the sources of variations of the allometric exponents at both inter- and intra-specific levels using stem analysis from 9,363 trees for ten Eastern Canada species with a large shade-tolerance gradient. Specifically, the yearly allometric exponents, α v,DBH [volume (v) and diameter at breast height (DBH)], β v,h [v and height (h)], and γ h,DBH (h and DBH) were modelled as a function of tree age for each species. α v,DBH, and γ h,DBH increased with tree age and then reached a plateau ranging from 2.45 to 3.12 for α v,DBH, and 0.874–1.48 for γ h,DBH. Pine species presented a local maximum. No effect of tree age on β v,h was found for conifers, while it increased until a plateau ranging from 3.71 to 5.16 for broadleaves. The influence of shade tolerance on the growth trajectories was then explored. In the juvenile stage, α v,DBH, and γ h,DBH increased with shade tolerance while β v,h was shade-tolerance independent. In the mature stage, β v,h increased with shade tolerance, whereas γ h,DBH decreased and α v,DBH was shade-tolerance independent. The interaction between development stage and shade tolerance for allometric exponents demonstrates the importance of the changing functional requirements of trees for resource allocation at both the inter- and intra-specific level. These results indicate the need to also integrate specific functional traits, growth strategies and allocation, in allometric theoretical frameworks.


Functional requirements Growth allocation Life strategies Allometric theory Stem analysis 



The authors would like to thank the Fonds de recherche du Québec–Nature et technologies, the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs of the province of Quebec (MFFP), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for funding and the MFFP for access to the data. The authors also thank Jean-Pierre Saucier, the anonymous reviewer and the associate editor for their helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de Biologie, Chimie et Géographie, Chaire de Recherche sur la Forêt HabitéeUniversité du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR)RimouskiCanada

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