Rank reversals in tree growth along tree size, competition and climatic gradients for four forest canopy dominant species in Central Spain uri icon


  • Interspecific differences in tree growth patterns with respect to biotic and abiotic factors are key for understanding forest structure and dynamics, and predicting potential changes under climate change.
  • Repeated observations from the Spanish Forest Inventory (SFI) were used to parameterize maximum likelihood estimators of tree growth as a function of tree size, competition indices and climate for Pinus pinaster, P. sylvestris, Quercus ilex and Q. pyrenaica.
  • Significant responses to both biotic and abiotic factors were found, with interspecific differences in species performance along competition, temperature and precipitation gradients. Q. ilex was the species most tolerant to competition while P. pinaster was the species most sensitive to climatic variation. Species relative positions shifted along gradients of these factors with rank reversals in species performance along size, competition and climatic gradients.
  • The results based on average growth matched previous forestry classifications and experimental studies on relative growth rate (RGR).
  • When examining growth along studied abiotic and biotic gradients, a mismatch was found between species performance ranks as predicted by our models and information derived from previous knowledge. Those discrepancies highlight the relevance of ontogeny and environmental heterogeneity in defining species performance along competition gradients.

publication date

  • 2008
  • 2008