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Mixing of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) enhances structural heterogeneity, and the effect increases with water availability

Pretzsch, H., del Río, M., Schütze, G., Ammer, Ch., Annighöfer, P., Avdagic, A., Barbeito, I., Bielak, K., Brazaitis, G., Coll, L., Drössler, L., Fabrika, M., Forrester, D.I., Kurylyak, V., Löf, M., Lombardi, F., Matović, B., Mohren, F., Motta, R., den Ouden, J., Pach, M., Ponette, Q., Skrzyszewski, J., Sramek, V., Sterba, H., Svoboda, M., Verheyen, K., Zlatanov, T., Bravo-Oviedo, A.
Forest ecology and management 2016 v.373 pp. 149-166
Fagus sylvatica subsp. sylvatica, Pinus sylvestris, additive effect, forests, mixed stands, mixing, models, shade tolerance, stand density, stand structure, trees, Europe
The mixing of tree species with complementary ecological traits may modify forest functioning regarding productivity, stability, or resilience against disturbances. This may be achieved by a higher heterogeneity in stand structure which is often addressed but rarely quantified. Here, we use 32 triplets of mature and fully stocked monocultures and mixed stands of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) located along a productivity and water availability gradient through Europe to examine how mixing modifies the stand structure in terms of stand density, horizontal tree distribution pattern, vertical stand structure, size distribution pattern, and variation in tree morphology. We further analyze how site conditions modify these aspects of stand structure. For this typical mixture of a light demanding and shade tolerant species we show that (i) mixing significantly increases many aspects of structural heterogeneity compared with monocultures, (ii) mixing effects such as an increase of stand density and diversification of vertical structure and tree morphology are caused by species identity (additive effects) but also by species interactions (multiplicative effects), and (iii) superior heterogeneity of mixed stands over monocultures can increase from dry to moist sites. We discuss the implications for analyzing the productivity, for modelling and for the management of mixed species stands.