Prevalence of interspecific competition in a mixed poplar/black locust plantation under adverse climate conditions

  • Nicolas Marron
  • Pierrick Priault
  • Cécilia Gana
  • Dominique Gérant
  • Daniel Epron
Original Paper

Abstract

Key message

In a mixed poplar/black locust plantation in central France, adverse conditions have led to a prevalence of interspecific competition, resulting in a poorer performance than monocultures.

Context

In mixed tree plantations, the presence of woody N2-fixing species is thought to reduce N needs by fertilization. However, benefits associated to soil nitrogen enrichment have to outweigh the negative effects of interspecific competition. To do so, co-occurring tree species have to be chosen carefully to promote niche sharing between species and reduce competition. Black locust and poplar mixtures therefore seem promising since both species are fast growing and have potentially complementary crown shapes.

Aims

Our objective was to evaluate the impact of the poplar/black locust mixture on the growth, above- and belowground biomass production, and nitrogen allocation of the two species, as compared to their respective monocultures.

Methods

An experimental plantation mixing poplar and black locust was set up in central France. For five growing seasons, growth, nitrogen allocation, and carbon allocation were monitored for the two species growing either in mixture or in monoculture.

Results

After a couple of promising growing seasons, black locust growth and survival slowly declined, mainly in the mixture. At the stand level, biomass production in the mixed plots was nearly 50% below the most productive monoculture (poplar) by age 5 years.

Conclusion

Under adverse conditions, interspecific competition in the mixture was the preponderant interaction, resulting in higher mortality and lower biomass production than the two monocultures.

Keywords

N2 fixation Biomass production and allocation Interspecific interactions Mixed-species woody plantation Nitrogen dynamics 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are particularly grateful to Erwin Dallé for his active contribution to data acquisition in the field and for sample and dataset preparation. We also thank the numerous colleagues and students, as well as the GBFOr Experimental Unit in Orléans (UE 0995), for their help during harvesting.

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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université de Lorraine, AgroParisTech, INRA, UMR 1434 SilvaNancyFrance

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