European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 135, Issue 1, pp 23–49 | Cite as

Characterization of the structure, dynamics, and productivity of mixed-species stands: review and perspectives

  • Miren del RíoEmail author
  • Hans Pretzsch
  • Iciar Alberdi
  • Kamil Bielak
  • Felipe Bravo
  • Andreas Brunner
  • Sonia Condés
  • Mark J. Ducey
  • Teresa Fonseca
  • Nikolas von Lüpke
  • Maciej Pach
  • Sanja Peric
  • Thomas Perot
  • Zahera Souidi
  • Peter Spathelf
  • Hubert Sterba
  • Martina Tijardovic
  • Margarida Tomé
  • Patrick Vallet
  • Andrés Bravo-Oviedo
Assmann Review


The growth and yield of mixed-species stands has become an important topic of research since there are certain advantages of this type of forest as regards functions and services. However, the concepts and methods used to characterize mixed stands need to be understood, as well as harmonized and standardized. In this review we have compiled a set of measures, indices, and methods at stand level to characterize the structure, dynamics, and productivity of mixed stands, and we discuss the pros and cons of their application in growth and yield studies. Parameters for the characterization of mixed stand structure such as stand density, species composition, horizontal (intermingling) and vertical tree distribution pattern, tree size distribution, and age composition are described, detailing the potential as well as the constraints of these parameters for understanding resource capture, use, and efficiency in mixed stands. Furthermore, a set of stand-level parameters was evaluated to characterize the dynamics of mixed stands, e.g. height growth and space partitioning, self- and alien-thinning, and growth partitioning among trees. The deviations and changes in the behaviour of the analysed parameters in comparison with pure stand conditions due to inter-specific interactions are of particular interest. As regards stand productivity, we reviewed site productivity indices, the growth–density relationship in mixed stands as well as methods to compare productivity in mixed versus monospecific stands. Finally, we discuss the main problems associated with the methodology such as up-scaling from tree to stand level as well as the relevance of standardized measures and methods for improving forest growth and yield research in mixed stands. The main challenges are also outlined, especially the need for qualitatively sound data.


Stand structure indices Growth pattern Self- and alien-thinning Maximum density Site productivity indices Mixing effect 



The networking in this study has been supported by COST Action FP1206 EuMIXFOR. The first author also thanks the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness for funding the research project “Mixed Forest complexity and sustainability: dynamic, silviculture and adaptive management tools” (AGL2014-51964-C2-2-R). We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miren del Río
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hans Pretzsch
    • 3
  • Iciar Alberdi
    • 1
  • Kamil Bielak
    • 4
  • Felipe Bravo
    • 2
    • 5
  • Andreas Brunner
    • 6
  • Sonia Condés
    • 7
  • Mark J. Ducey
    • 8
  • Teresa Fonseca
    • 9
  • Nikolas von Lüpke
    • 10
  • Maciej Pach
    • 11
  • Sanja Peric
    • 12
  • Thomas Perot
    • 13
  • Zahera Souidi
    • 14
  • Peter Spathelf
    • 15
  • Hubert Sterba
    • 16
  • Martina Tijardovic
    • 12
  • Margarida Tomé
    • 17
  • Patrick Vallet
    • 13
  • Andrés Bravo-Oviedo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Silviculture and Forest ManagementINIA Forest Research Centre INIA-CIFORMadridSpain
  2. 2.Sustainable Forest Management Research InstituteUniversidad de Valladolid & INIAMadrid/PalenciaSpain
  3. 3.Chair for Forest Growth and Yield ScienceTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  4. 4.Department of SilvicultureWarsaw University of Life SciencesWarsawPoland
  5. 5.ETS de Ingenierías AgrariasUniversity of ValladolidPalenciaSpain
  6. 6.Department of Ecology and Natural Resource ManagementNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  7. 7.Department of Natural Systems and Resources, School of ForestryTechnical University of MadridMadridSpain
  8. 8.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  9. 9.Department of Forest Sciences and Landscape ArchitectureUniversidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto DouroVila RealPortugal
  10. 10.Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy ResearchÅsNorway
  11. 11.Department of Silviculture, Institute of Forest Ecology and SilvicultureUniversity of AgricultureKrakówPoland
  12. 12.Croatian Forest Research InstituteJastrebarskoCroatia
  13. 13.Irstea - Unité Ecosystèmes ForestiersNogent-Sur-VernissonFrance
  14. 14.Université de MascaraMascaraAlgeria
  15. 15.Faculty of Forest and EnvironmentEberswalde University for Sustainable DevelopmentEberswaldeGermany
  16. 16.Department of Forest and Soil ScienceBOKU University of Natural Resources and Life SciencesViennaAustria
  17. 17.Forest Research Center, School of AgricultureUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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