Terrestrial laser scanning reveals differences in crown structure of Fagus sylvatica in mixed vs. pure European forests uri icon

abstract

  • Competition with neighboring trees of different species can affect crown size and shape. However, whether intra-specific differences in crown characteristics in mixed stands compared to pure stands are dependent on site conditions remains poorly understood. We used terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) to examine the differences in Fagus sylvatica crown characteristics at four sites, each of which contained pure stands of F. sylvatica and their mixture with Pinus sylvestris. These sites covered the area where the mixture occurs in Europe from south to north, representing a gradient of F. sylvatica productivity, defined as the mean increment of annual volume growth in pure F. sylvatica stands. Despite the large range in productivity, F. sylvatica trees in mixtures had larger crowns regardless of site conditions, with a higher proportion of their crown volume in the lower canopy compared to trees in pure stands. Larger crown volumes were related to higher live crown ratios and greater crown expansion, depending on the site. The magnitude of the mixing effect was variable among the crown characteristics evaluated, but overall our findings provide evidence that for a given species combination and density, the effect of mixture increased in the two most productive sites. TLS-derived novel crown metrics revealed that the mixing effect was affected by productivity, which was not captured by traditionally measured crown variables.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017