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, αv,DBH [volume (v) and diameter at breast height (DBH)], βv,h [v and height (h)], and γh,DBH (h and DBH) were modelled as a function of tree age for each species. αv,DBH, and γh,DBH increased with tree age and then reached a plateau ranging from 2.45 to 3.12 for αv,DBH, and 0.874–1.48 for γh,DBH. Pine species presented a local maximum. No effect of tree age on βv,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, αv,DBH, and γh,DBH increased with shade tolerance while βv,h was shade-tolerance independent. In the mature stage, βv,h increased with shade tolerance, whereas γh,DBH decreased and αv,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
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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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