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Local-scale drivers of multi-stemmed tree formation in Acer, in a temperate forest of Northeast China

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Acer is an important genus in temperate forests in Northeast China. Individual Acer trees can re-sprout from the root collar and can occur in clonal units, either as a single-stemmed or multi-stemmed tree. However, the factors that induce multiple-stems in Acer remain only partly understood. In this study, we determined the relative importance of abiotic and biotic variables in driving the production of multiple-stems in this genus, within a 25-hm2 experimental forest dynamics plot in Changbaishan (CBS) temperate forest. We used generalized linear mixed models to perform analyses at two levels (community- and species-level). We found seven Acer species in total within the plot, where they form a key part of the forest community. Our results show that abiotic factors play a more important role in producing multi-stemmed trees at the community level in CBS. At the species level, the relative importance of different factors varied among species. Shrub species tended to have a higher frequency of multi-stemmed trees under stressful conditions, whereas tree species tended to have more multi-stemmed trees in more suitable habitat. Our results indicate that the relative importance of different factors influencing the frequency of multi-stemmed individuals in Acer differs at the community and species level in the temperate forest.

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This work was supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (31100447) and the Forestry Public Welfare Project (201204309-1). The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful reviews and helpful suggestions. We would also like to thank Emily Drummond at the University of British Columbia for her assistance with English language and grammatical editing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ji Ye.

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Ye, J., Hao, Z., Wang, X. et al. Local-scale drivers of multi-stemmed tree formation in Acer, in a temperate forest of Northeast China. Chin. Sci. Bull. 59, 320–325 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11434-013-0013-8

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  • Abiotic and biotic neighborhoods
  • Acer
  • Changbaishan
  • Multi-stemmed trees
  • Temperate forest