Seedling Growth and Biomass Production under Different Light Availability Levels and Competition Types

2021 | journal article; research paper. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Seedling Growth and Biomass Production under Different Light Availability Levels and Competition Types​
Bebre, I.; Riebl, H. & Annighöfer, P.​ (2021) 
Forests12(10) pp. 1376​.​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/f12101376 

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Authors
Bebre, Ieva; Riebl, Hannes; Annighöfer, Peter
Abstract
Light availability is a crucial resource determining seedling survival, establishment, and growth. Competition for light is asymmetric, giving the taller individuals a competitive advantage for obtaining light resources. Species-specific traits, e.g., shade tolerance, rooting depth, and leaf morphology, determine their strategical growth response under limited resource availability and different competitive interactions. We established a controlled pot experiment using European beech, Norway spruce, and Douglas fir seedlings and applying three different light availability levels—10%, 20%, and 50%. The experiment’s main aim was to better understand the effects of light availability and competition type on the growth, growth allocation, and biomass production of recently planted seedlings. We planted four seedlings per pot in either monocultures or mixtures of two species. Relative height and diameter growth and aboveground woody biomass of seedlings increased with increasing light availability. All seedlings allocated more growth to height than diameter with decreasing light availability. Seedlings that reached on average greater height in the previous year allocated less growth to height in the following year. Additionally, there were general differences in growth allocation to the height between gymnosperms and angiosperms, but we did not find an effect of the competitor’s identity. Our mixture effect analysis trends suggested that mixtures of functionally dissimilar species are more likely to produce higher biomass than mixtures of more similar species such as the two studied conifers. This finding points towards increased productivity through complementarity.
Light availability is a crucial resource determining seedling survival, establishment, and growth. Competition for light is asymmetric, giving the taller individuals a competitive advantage for obtaining light resources. Species-specific traits, e.g., shade tolerance, rooting depth, and leaf morphology, determine their strategical growth response under limited resource availability and different competitive interactions. We established a controlled pot experiment using European beech, Norway spruce, and Douglas fir seedlings and applying three different light availability levels—10%, 20%, and 50%. The experiment’s main aim was to better understand the effects of light availability and competition type on the growth, growth allocation, and biomass production of recently planted seedlings. We planted four seedlings per pot in either monocultures or mixtures of two species. Relative height and diameter growth and aboveground woody biomass of seedlings increased with increasing light availability. All seedlings allocated more growth to height than diameter with decreasing light availability. Seedlings that reached on average greater height in the previous year allocated less growth to height in the following year. Additionally, there were general differences in growth allocation to the height between gymnosperms and angiosperms, but we did not find an effect of the competitor’s identity. Our mixture effect analysis trends suggested that mixtures of functionally dissimilar species are more likely to produce higher biomass than mixtures of more similar species such as the two studied conifers. This finding points towards increased productivity through complementarity.
Issue Date
2021
Journal
Forests 
Organization
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Waldbau und Waldökologie der gemäßigten Zonen 
eISSN
1999-4907
Language
English
Sponsor
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2021

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