Less is more: Effects of competition reduction and facilitation on intra-annual (basal area) growth of mature European beech

Abstract

Key Message

Species-specific neighborhood identity effects such as competition reduction or facilitation can positively influence growth patterns of Fagus sylvatica at a given site, but are not strong enough to overcome fundamental growth–environment interactions of European beech.

Abstract

Competition and growth dynamics operating within multi-species tree stands are more complex than interactions within evenly aged monocultures. In three major geographic regions of Germany, we used electronic dendrometers to analyze the impact of neighborhood identity effects such as competition reduction or facilitation on the intra-annual stem growth patterns of Fagus sylvatica (European beech) on various time scales (day to year). Although not consistently significant, within the same study site average basal area growth relative to initial values was always higher at the ends of the growing seasons if subject tree beeches were exposed exclusively to interspecific competition. Weibull growth curves were fitted to rescaled dendrometer profiles. Analysis of the resulting Weibull scale (T) and shape (m) parameter estimates indicated the following: within the same growing area, initial growth trends of beeches in either con- or allo-specific competitive neighborhoods did not differ significantly, but subject trees exclusively surrounded by Pinus sylvestris benefited through extended duration of growth. These findings are reflected in the results for onset, cessation and total duration of wood formation calculated from inverse Weibull functions. Results of this study tend to confirm the assumption that interspecific interference induces higher daily stem growth rates of beech throughout the entire growing season. However, although particular species-specific neighborhood identity or mixing effects can indeed positively influence growth patterns of Fagus sylvatica at a given site, they are not strong enough to overcome fundamental growth–environment interactions of European beech.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the managers of the three Exploratories; Swen Renner, Kirsten Reichel-Jung, Sonja Gockel, Kerstin Wiesner, Katrin Lorenzen, Andreas Hemp, Martin Gorke, and all former managers for their work in maintaining the plot and project infrastructure; Simone Pfeiffer, Maren Gleisberg, Christiane Fischer for providing support through the central office, Michael Owonibi for managing the central database, and Markus Fischer, Eduard Linsenmair, Dominik Hessenmöller, Jens Nieschulze, Daniel Prati, Ingo Schöning, Francois Buscot, Wolfgang W. Weisser and the late Elisabeth Kalko for their roles in setting up the Biodiversity Exploratories project (together with co-author Ernst-Detlef Schulze). The work was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Priority Program 1374 “Infrastructure-Biodiversity-Exploratories” (Grant no: Am-149/7-1). Field work permits were issued by the responsible state environmental offices of Baden-Württemberg, Thüringen, and Brandenburg (according to §72 BbgNatSchG). We are very grateful to Karl-Heinz Heine, Andreas Parth, Michael Unger and Ulrike Westphal for assisting with field work. Thanks to Ulrich Pruschitzki and Silke Schweighoefer (UP Umweltanalytische Produkte GmbH) for their technical support with dendrometer equipment as well as raw data preparation. We further acknowledge the linguistic corrections made by Kathleen Regan (USA) and very helpful comments by two reviewers.

Funding

The work has been funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Priority Program 1374 “Infrastructure-Biodiversity-Exploratories” (Grant no: Am-149/7-1).

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Metz, J., Annighöfer, P., Westekemper, K. et al. Less is more: Effects of competition reduction and facilitation on intra-annual (basal area) growth of mature European beech. Trees 34, 17–36 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-019-01894-7

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Keywords

  • Beech
  • Competition
  • Mixing effects
  • Electronic dendrometer
  • Intra-annual growth dynamics