Annals of Forest Science

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 325–335 | Cite as

A comprehensive framework of forest stand property–density relationships: perspectives for plant population ecology and forest management

  • James N. Long
  • Giorgio VacchianoEmail author
Review Paper



There are many stand property–density relationships in ecology which represent emergent properties of plant populations. Examples include self-thinning, competition–density effect, constant final yield, and age-related decline in stand growth. We suggest that these relationships are different aspects of a general framework of stand property–density relationships.


We aim to illustrate the generalities and ecological implications of stand property–density relationships, and organize them in a comprehensive framework.


We illustrate relationships between stand property and density (1) at one point in time, (2) over time, and (3) independent of time. We review the consequences of considering different variables to characterize stand property (mean tree size, mean tree growth, stand growth, stand yield, stand leaf area).


We provide a framework that integrates the broad categories of stand property–density relationships and individual expressions of these relationships. For example, we conclude that constant final yield is a special case of the growth–growing stock relationship for life forms were yield is a reasonable approximation of growth (non-woody plants).


There is support in the literature for leaf area being broadly integrative with respect to various expressions of stand property–density relationships. We show how this is and suggest implications for plant population ecology and forest management.


Competition Leaf area Population ecology Self-thinning Stand density Stand dynamics 



Wanda Lindquist assisted with preparation of the figures.


This research was supported by the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322-4810. Approved as journal paper no. 8554.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Quinney College of Natural Resources and Ecology CenterUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e AlimentariUniversità degli Studi di TorinoGrugliascoItaly

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