Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 139–150 | Cite as

Density-dependent shift from facilitation to competition in a dwarf Avicennia germinans forest

  • Aor PranchaiEmail author
  • Michael Jenke
  • Juliane Vogt
  • Uwe Grueters
  • Lin Yue
  • Ulf Mehlig
  • Moirah Machado de Menezes
  • Sven Wagner
  • Uta Berger
Original Paper


The global effort to rehabilitate and restore destroyed mangrove forests is unable to keep up with the high mangrove deforestation rates, which exceed the average pace of global deforestation. Although facilitation theory presents new possibilities for the restoration of heavily degraded mangrove sites, knowledge of tree–tree interactions in stressed mangrove forest ecosystems is too limited to utilize facilitation appropriately. The aim was to determine the mode of local interaction among stressed mangrove trees by investigating the effect of clustering on tree size and crown morphology under contrasting stand densities. The study was conducted in a dwarf Avicennia germinans forest in Northern Brazil, in which tree growth is limited by infrequent inundation and high pore-water salinity. Autoregressive regression, Voronoi tessellation and spatial point pattern statistics were used to address the spatial processes underlying tree interaction. Under low stand density (1.2 trees m−2) dwarf trees which grew in clustered cohorts of A. germinans had a less stunted crown morphology revealing the dominance of a positive neighborhood influence among plants. In contrast, dwarf trees in the denser forest stand (2.7 trees m−2) were interacting competitively as indicated by the more negative effect of neighbors on crown morphology and size. The shift from facilitative to competitive interactions is an important feature of mangrove forest regeneration under harsh environmental conditions. If mangrove trees are unable to regenerate naturally on severely degraded sites, intraspecific facilitation could be used to assist regeneration by planting seedlings in clusters and not evenly spaced.


Mangroves Crown morphology Intraspecific facilitation Brazil Pair-correlation function Spatial Durbin model 



The fieldwork was funded by the European Commission in the framework of the Coastal Research Network on Environmental Changes (CREC), which was part of its 7th Framework Program (Marie Curie Action FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES; EU IRSES # 247514).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Silviculture, Faculty of ForestryKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Institute of International Forestry and Forest ProductsTechnische Universität DresdenTharandtGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Forest Growth and Forest Computer SciencesTechnische Universität DresdenTharandtGermany
  4. 4.Department of Ecological ModellingHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Federal University of Pará (UFPA)BragançaBrazil
  6. 6.Institute of Silviculture and Forest ProtectionTechnische Universität DresdenTharandtGermany

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