European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 133, Issue 6, pp 1109–1119 | Cite as

Main biotic drivers of tree growth in a developing Juniperus thurifera stand in central Spain

  • Natalia Vizcaíno-PalomarEmail author
  • Lorena Gómez-Aparicio
  • Javier Pavón-García
  • Carmen Bartolomé-Esteban
  • Julio Álvarez-Jiménez
  • Miguel A. Zavala
Original Paper


Over the last few decades, abandonment of traditional management practices in Spain has led to widespread stand densification and has favoured the expansion of some forest species that previously exhibited more restricted ranges. Spanish juniper (Juniperus thurifera L.) woodlands are experiencing this phenomenon due to agricultural land abandonment and a decrease in the livestock pressure. Yet the main drivers underlying stand structure and dynamics at this novel scenario are poorly understood. In this study, we investigate the main biotic drivers of tree growth in a high-density stand of the dioecious J. thurifera at an early developmental stage (mean tree age of 32, ca. 50 years after land abandonment). Tree growth was measured by coring 299 individuals of different reproductive classes (male, female and non-reproductive). Neighbourhood models were used to assess the relative importance of tree size and neighbourhood competition on tree growth of each reproductive class in the study plot. We found that tree size had the strongest effect on tree growth, whereas the effect of intraspecific competition was negligible. We observed differences in growth patterns among reproductive classes along trunk diameter sizes. Thus, at smaller sizes, the three reproductive classes presented identical patterns of growth. However, at bigger sizes, females were the fastest growing individuals, followed by males and non-reproductive individuals. Overall, our results suggest that in young J. thurifera monospecific forests, where self-thinning processes may have not undergone yet, tree size and the reproductive class could play a relatively more important role than competition as drivers of tree growth. These findings constitute new information which contributes to understanding growth dynamics at early developmental stages in this dioecious species. Furthermore, our results provide guidelines for silvicultural managing, suggesting that at these young juniper stands thinning would likely not translate into enhanced growth on remnant trees.


Dioecious Intraspecific competition Land-use abandonment Mediterranean forests Neighbourhood models Reproductive class Tree growth 



We thank the forest owners for kindly allowing us to work on their property. We also thank friends and relatives for their assistance in collecting field data, Noelia González-Muñoz and Paloma Ruiz-Benito for their comments to earlier versions of the manuscript, and Jesús Martínez-Fernández for drawing the map as well as a professional English editor. This work was supported by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through grant [CGL2008-04503-C03-01/03] and REMEDINAL2 (CAM, S2009/AMB-1783). NVP was supported by fellowship FPI-MCI [BES-2009-025151].

Conflict of interest

None declared.

Supplementary material

10342_2014_826_MOESM1_ESM.doc (439 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 439 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalia Vizcaíno-Palomar
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lorena Gómez-Aparicio
    • 3
  • Javier Pavón-García
    • 2
  • Carmen Bartolomé-Esteban
    • 2
  • Julio Álvarez-Jiménez
    • 2
  • Miguel A. Zavala
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Forest Ecology and GeneticsForest Research Centre (INIA)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Forest Ecology and Restoration Group, Department of Life Sciences, Science BuildingUniversity of AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  3. 3.Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología de Sevilla (IRNAS)CSICSevillaSpain

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