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1.  Crown Plasticity and Competition for Canopy Space: A New Spatially Implicit Model Parameterized for 250 North American Tree Species 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e870.
Canopy structure, which can be defined as the sum of the sizes, shapes and relative placements of the tree crowns in a forest stand, is central to all aspects of forest ecology. But there is no accepted method for deriving canopy structure from the sizes, species and biomechanical properties of the individual trees in a stand. Any such method must capture the fact that trees are highly plastic in their growth, forming tessellating crown shapes that fill all or most of the canopy space.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We introduce a new, simple and rapidly-implemented model–the Ideal Tree Distribution, ITD–with tree form (height allometry and crown shape), growth plasticity, and space-filling, at its core. The ITD predicts the canopy status (in or out of canopy), crown depth, and total and exposed crown area of the trees in a stand, given their species, sizes and potential crown shapes. We use maximum likelihood methods, in conjunction with data from over 100,000 trees taken from forests across the coterminous US, to estimate ITD model parameters for 250 North American tree species. With only two free parameters per species–one aggregate parameter to describe crown shape, and one parameter to set the so-called depth bias–the model captures between-species patterns in average canopy status, crown radius, and crown depth, and within-species means of these metrics vs stem diameter. The model also predicts much of the variation in these metrics for a tree of a given species and size, resulting solely from deterministic responses to variation in stand structure.
This new model, with parameters for US tree species, opens up new possibilities for understanding and modeling forest dynamics at local and regional scales, and may provide a new way to interpret remote sensing data of forest canopies, including LIDAR and aerial photography.
PMCID: PMC1964803  PMID: 17849000
2.  Computing Competition for Light in the GREENLAB Model of Plant Growth: A Contribution to the Study of the Effects of Density on Resource Acquisition and Architectural Development 
Annals of Botany  2007;101(8):1207-1219.
Background and Aims
The dynamical system of plant growth GREENLAB was originally developed for individual plants, without explicitly taking into account interplant competition for light. Inspired by the competition models developed in the context of forest science for mono-specific stands, we propose to adapt the method of crown projection onto the x–y plane to GREENLAB, in order to study the effects of density on resource acquisition and on architectural development.
The empirical production equation of GREENLAB is extrapolated to stands by computing the exposed photosynthetic foliage area of each plant. The computation is based on the combination of Poisson models of leaf distribution for all the neighbouring plants whose crown projection surfaces overlap. To study the effects of density on architectural development, we link the proposed competition model to the model of interaction between functional growth and structural development introduced by Mathieu (2006, PhD Thesis, Ecole Centrale de Paris, France).
Key Results and Conclusions
The model is applied to mono-specific field crops and forest stands. For high-density crops at full cover, the model is shown to be equivalent to the classical equation of field crop production ( Howell and Musick, 1985, in Les besoins en eau des cultures; Paris: INRA Editions). However, our method is more accurate at the early stages of growth (before cover) or in the case of intermediate densities. It may potentially account for local effects, such as uneven spacing, variation in the time of plant emergence or variation in seed biomass. The application of the model to trees illustrates the expression of plant plasticity in response to competition for light. Density strongly impacts on tree architectural development through interactions with the source–sink balances during growth. The effects of density on tree height and radial growth that are commonly observed in real stands appear as emerging properties of the model.
PMCID: PMC2710279  PMID: 18037666
Functional–structural plant models; GREENLAB; competition for light; Beer–Lambert Law; plant plasticity; dynamical system
3.  Responses of Crown Development to Canopy Openings by Saplings of Eight Tropical Submontane Forest Tree Species in Indonesia: A Comparison with Cool-temperate Trees 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(4):559-569.
• Background and Aims Growth in trunk height in canopy openings is important for saplings. How saplings increase height growth in canopy openings may relate to crown architectural constraints. Responses of crown development to canopy openings in relation to trunk height growth were studied for saplings (0·2–2·5 m tall) of eight tropical submontane forest tree species in Indonesia. The results of this study were also compared with those of temperate trees in northern Japan.
• Methods The crown architecture differed among the eight tropical species, i.e. they had sparsely to highly developed branching structures. Crown allometry was compared among the eight species in each canopy condition (closed canopy or canopy openings), and between closed canopy and canopy openings within a species. A general linear regression model was used to analyse how each species increases height growth rate in canopy openings. Crown allometry and its plasticity were compared between tropical and temperate trees by a nested analysis of covariance.
• Key Results Tropical submontane trees had responses similar to cool-temperate trees, showing an increase in height in canopy openings, i.e. taller saplings of sparsely branched species increase height growth rates by increasing the sapling leaf area. Cool-temperate trees have a wider crown projection area and a smaller leaf area per crown projection area to avoid self-shading within a crown compared with tropical submontane trees. Plasticity of the crown projection area is greater in cool-temperate trees than in tropical submontane trees, probably because of the difference in leaf longevity.
• Conclusions This study concluded that interspecific variation in the responses of crown development to canopy openings in regard to increasing height related to the species' branching structure, and that different life-forms, such as evergreen and deciduous trees, had different crown allometry and plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2803653  PMID: 16399792
Cool-temperate trees; crown allometry; crown architecture; height growth; Indonesia; saplings; plasticity; tropical trees
4.  Common allometric response of open-grown leader shoots to tree height in co-occurring deciduous broadleaved trees 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(7):1279-1286.
Background and Aims
Morphology of crown shoots changes with tree height. The height of forest trees is usually correlated with the light environment and this makes it difficult to separate the effects of tree size and of light conditions on the morphological plasticity of crown shoots. This paper addresses the tree-height dependence of shoot traits under full-light conditions where a tree crown is not shaded by other crowns.
Focus is given to relationships between tree height and top-shoot traits, which include the shoot's leaf-blades and non-leafy mass, its total leaf-blade area and the length and basal diameter of the shoot's stem. We examine the allometric characteristics of open-grown current-year leader shoots at the tops of forest tree crowns up to 24 m high and quantify their responses to tree height in 13 co-occurring deciduous hardwood species in a cool-temperate forest in northern Japan.
Key Results
Dry mass allocated to leaf blades in a leader shoot increased with tree height in all 13 species. Specific leaf area decreased with tree height. Stem basal area was almost proportional to total leaf area in a leader shoot, where the proportionality constant did not depend on tree height, irrespective of species. Stem length for a given stem diameter decreased with tree height.
In the 13 species observed, height-dependent changes in allometry of leader shoots were convergent. This finding suggests that there is a common functional constraint in tree-height development. Under full-light conditions, leader shoots of tall trees naturally experience more severe water stress than those of short trees. We hypothesize that the height dependence of shoot allometry detected reflects an integrated response to height-associated water stress, which contributes to successful crown expansion and height gain.
PMCID: PMC3197456  PMID: 21914698
Allometry; current-year leader shoot; hierarchical Bayesian model; pipe model; tree height; water stress
5.  Leaf area and light use efficiency patterns of Norway spruce under different thinning regimes and age classes 
► Absorbed light was only marginally superior to predict volume increment than leaf area. ► Larger trees were consistently more efficient than smaller trees. ► Thinning increased the efficiency of an average tree.
Silviculture focuses on establishing forest stand conditions that improve the stand increment. Knowledge about the efficiency of an individual tree is essential to be able to establish stand structures that increase tree resource use efficiency and stand level production. Efficiency is often expressed as stem growth per unit leaf area (leaf area efficiency), or per unit of light absorbed (light use efficiency). We tested the hypotheses that: (1) volume increment relates more closely with crown light absorption than leaf area, since one unit of leaf area can receive different amounts of light due to competition with neighboring trees and self-shading, (2) dominant trees use light more efficiently than suppressed trees and (3) thinning increases the efficiency of light use by residual trees, partially accounting for commonly observed increases in post-thinning growth. We investigated eight even-aged Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) stands at Bärnkopf, Austria, spanning three age classes (mature, immature and pole-stage) and two thinning regimes (thinned and unthinned). Individual leaf area was calculated with allometric equations and absorbed photosynthetically active radiation was estimated for each tree using the three-dimensional crown model Maestra. Absorbed photosynthetically active radiation was only a slightly better predictor of volume increment than leaf area. Light use efficiency increased with increasing tree size in all stands, supporting the second hypothesis. At a given tree size, trees from the unthinned plots were more efficient, however, due to generally larger tree sizes in the thinned stands, an average tree from the thinned treatment was superior (not congruent in all plots, thus only partly supporting the third hypothesis).
PMCID: PMC4268600  PMID: 25540477
Picea abies; APAR; Maestra
6.  Applicability of non-destructive substitutes for leaf area in different stands of Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.) focusing on traditional forest crown measures 
Forest Ecology and Management  2010;260(9):1498-1506.
Research highlights
▶ Determination of individual tree leaf area usually is only possible destructively. ▶ Surrogates which can be assessed non-destructively are investigated. ▶ From about 150 trees leaf area is estimated by 3P-branch sampling. ▶ These estimates are best correlated with crown surface area. ▶ Equations to determine individual tree leaf area non-destructively are presented.
Since individual tree leaf area is an important measure for productivity as well as for site occupancy, it is of high interest in many studies about forest growth. The exact determination of leaf area is nearly impossible. Thus, a common way to get information about leaf area is to use substitutes. These substitutes are often variables which are collected in a destructive way which is not feasible for long term studies. Therefore, this study aimed at testing the applicability of using substitutes for leaf area which could be collected in a non-destructive way, namely crown surface area and crown projection area. In 8 stands of Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.), divided into three age classes and two thinning treatments, a total of 156 trees were felled in order to test the relationship between leaf area and crown surface area and crown projection area, respectively. Individual tree leaf area of the felled sample trees was estimated by 3P-branch sampling with an accuracy of ±10%. Crown projection area and crown surface area were compared with other, more commonly used, but destructive predictors of leaf area, namely sapwood area at different heights on the bole. Our investigations confirmed findings of several studies that sapwood area is the most precise measure for leaf area because of the high correlation between sapwood area and the leaf area. But behind sapwood area at crown base and sapwood area at three tenth of the tree height the predictive ability of crown surface area was ranked third and even better than that of sapwood area at breast height (R2 = 0.656 compared with 0.600). Within the stands leaf area is proportional to crown surface area. Using the pooled data of all stands a mixed model approach showed that additionally to crown surface area dominant height and diameter at breast height (dbh) improved the leaf area estimates. Thus, taking dominant height and dbh into account, crown surface area can be recommended for estimating the leaf area of individual trees. The resulting model was in line with many other findings on the leaf area and leaf mass relationships with crown size. From the additional influence of dominant height and dbh in the leaf area model we conclude that the used crown model could be improved by estimating the position of the maximum crown width and the crown width at the base of the crown depending on these two variables.
PMCID: PMC2954308  PMID: 21072126
Norway spruce; Leaf area; Crown projection area; Crown surface area; Age; Thinning treatment
7.  Stimulating seedling growth in early stages of secondary forest succession: a modeling approach to guide tree liberation 
Excessive growth of non-woody plants and shrubs on degraded lands can strongly hamper tree growth and thus secondary forest succession. A common method to accelerate succession, called liberation, involves opening up the vegetation canopy around young target trees. This can increase growth of target trees by reducing competition for light with neighboring plants. However, liberation has not always had the desired effect, likely due to differences in light requirement between tree species. Here we present a 3D-model, which calculates photosynthetic rate of individual trees in a vegetation stand. It enables us to examine how stature, crown structure, and physiological traits of target trees and characteristics of the surrounding vegetation together determine effects of light on tree growth. The model was applied to a liberation experiment conducted with three pioneer species in a young secondary forest in Vietnam. Species responded differently to the treatment depending on their height, crown structure and their shade-tolerance level. Model simulations revealed practical thresholds over which the tree growth response is heavily influenced by the height and density of surrounding vegetation and gap radius. There were strong correlations between calculated photosynthetic rates and observed growth: the model was well able to predict growth of trees in young forests and the effects of liberation there upon. Thus, our model serves as a useful tool to analyze light competition between young trees and surrounding vegetation and may help assess the potential effect of tree liberation.
PMCID: PMC4102908  PMID: 25101100
forest restoration; gap creation; photosynthesis model; light competition; Vietnam
8.  Cambial activity related to tree size in a mature silver-fir plantation 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(3):429-438.
Background and Aims
Our knowledge about the influences of environmental factors on tree growth is principally based on the study of dominant trees. However, tree social status may influence intra-annual dynamics of growth, leading to differential responses to environmental conditions. The aim was to determine whether within-stand differences in stem diameters of trees belonging to different crown classes resulted from variations in the length of the growing period or in the rate of cell production.
Cambial activity was monitored weekly in 2006 for three crown classes in a 40-year-old silver-fir (Abies alba) plantation near Nancy (France). Timings, duration and rate of tracheid production were assessed from anatomical observations of the developing xylem.
Key Results
Cambial activity started earlier, stopped later and lasted longer in dominant trees than in intermediate and suppressed ones. The onset of cambial activity was estimated to have taken 3 weeks to spread to 90 % of the trees in the stand, while the cessation needed 6 weeks. Cambial activity was more intense in dominant trees than in intermediate and suppressed ones. It was estimated that about 75 % of tree-ring width variability was attributable to the rate of cell production and only 25 % to its duration. Moreover, growth duration was correlated to tree height, while growth rate was better correlated to crown area.
These results show that, in a closed conifer forest, stem diameter variations resulted principally from differences in the rate of xylem cell production rather than in its duration. Tree size interacts with environmental factors to control the timings, duration and rate of cambial activity through functional processes involving source–sink relationships principally, but also hormonal controls.
PMCID: PMC3158687  PMID: 21816842
Cambial activity; forest-stand structure; silver fir (Abies alba); tree-ring formation; tree-to-tree competition; social status; wood anatomy; xylem cell differentiation
9.  How Stand Productivity Results from Size- and Competition-Dependent Growth and Mortality 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28660.
A better understanding of the relationship between stand structure and productivity is required for the development of: a) scalable models that can accurately predict growth and yield dynamics for the world's forests; and b) stand management regimes that maximize wood and/or timber yield, while maintaining structural and species diversity.
We develop a cohort-based canopy competition model (“CAIN”), parameterized with inventory data from Ontario, Canada, to examine the relationship between stand structure and productivity. Tree growth, mortality and recruitment are quantified as functions of diameter and asymmetric competition, using a competition index (CAIh) defined as the total projected area of tree crowns at a given tree's mid-crown height. Stand growth, mortality, and yield are simulated for inventoried stands, and also for hypothetical stands differing in total volume and tree size distribution.
For a given diameter, tree growth decreases as CAIh increases, whereas the probability of mortality increases. For a given CAIh, diameter growth exhibits a humped pattern with respect to diameter, whereas mortality exhibits a U-shaped pattern reflecting senescence of large trees. For a fixed size distribution, stand growth increases asymptotically with total density, whereas mortality increases monotonically. Thus, net productivity peaks at an intermediate volume of 100–150 m3/ha, and approaches zero at 250 m3/ha. However, for a fixed stand volume, mortality due to senescence decreases if the proportion of large trees decreases as overall density increases. This size-related reduction in mortality offsets the density-related increase in mortality, resulting in a 40% increase in yield.
Size-related variation in growth and mortality exerts a profound influence on the relationship between stand structure and productivity. Dense stands dominated by small trees yield more wood than stands dominated by fewer large trees, because the relative growth rate of small trees is higher, and because they are less likely to die.
PMCID: PMC3236764  PMID: 22174861
10.  Variation in Crown Light Utilization Characteristics among Tropical Canopy Trees 
Annals of Botany  2004;95(3):535-547.
• Background and Aims Light extinction through crowns of canopy trees determines light availability at lower levels within forests. The goal of this paper is the exploration of foliage distribution and light extinction in crowns of five canopy tree species in relation to their shoot architecture, leaf traits (mean leaf angle, life span, photosynthetic characteristics) and successional status (from pioneers to persistent).
• Methods Light extinction was examined at three hierarchical levels of foliage organization, the whole crown, the outermost canopy and the individual shoots, in a tropical moist forest with direct canopy access with a tower crane. Photon flux density and cumulative leaf area index (LAI) were measured at intervals of 0·25–1 m along multiple vertical transects through three to five mature tree crowns of each species to estimate light extinction coefficients (K).
• Results Cecropia longipes, a pioneer species with the shortest leaf life span, had crown LAI <0·5. Among the remaining four species, crown LAI ranged from 2 to 8, and species with orthotropic terminal shoots exhibited lower light extinction coefficients (0·35) than those with plagiotropic shoots (0·53–0·80). Within each type, later successional species exhibited greater maximum LAI and total light extinction. A dense layer of leaves at the outermost crown of a late successional species resulted in an average light extinction of 61 % within 0·5 m from the surface. In late successional species, leaf position within individual shoots does not predict the light availability at the individual leaf surface, which may explain their slow decline of photosynthetic capacity with leaf age and weak differentiation of sun and shade leaves.
• Conclusion Later-successional tree crowns, especially those with orthotropic branches, exhibit lower light extinction coefficients, but greater total LAI and total light extinction, which contribute to their efficient use of light and competitive dominance.
PMCID: PMC4246798  PMID: 15585541
Anacardium excelsum; Antirrhoea trichantha; architecture; Castilla elastica; Cecropia longipes; crown LAI; forest canopy; leaf angle; light extinction coefficient; Luehea seemannii; photosynthesis; tropical trees
11.  Do individual-tree growth models correctly represent height:diameter ratios of Norway spruce and Scots pine? 
Forest Ecology and Management  2010;260(10):1735-1753.
Research highlights
▶ We examined four individual tree models in Europe: BWIN, Moses, Silva and Prognaus. ▶ We simulated growth of open-grown trees and on research plots for 15 or 30 years. ▶ Height:diameter ratios were correctly predicted by all four models. ▶ Height:diameter ratios were within the bounds of open grown trees and dense stands. ▶ They decreased with age and density; dominant trees had lower ratios than mean trees.
Height:diameter ratios are an important measure of stand stability. Because of the importance of height:diameter ratios for forest management, individual-tree growth models should correctly depict height:diameter ratios. In particular, (i) height:diameter ratios should not exceed that of very dense stands, (ii) height:diameter ratios should not fall below that of open-grown trees, (iii) height:diameter ratios should decrease with increasing spacing, (iv) height:diameter ratios for suppressed trees should be higher than ratios for dominant trees. We evaluated the prediction of height:diameter ratios by running four commonly used individual-tree growth models in central Europe: BWIN, Moses, Silva and Prognaus. They represent different subtypes of individual-tree growth models, namely models with and without an explicit growth potential and models that are either distance-dependent (spatial) or distance-independent (non-spatial). Note that none of these simulators predict height:diameter ratios directly. We began by building a generic simulator that contained the relevant equations for diameter increment, height increment, and crown size for each of the four simulators. The relevant measures of competition, site characteristics, and stand statistics were also coded. The advantage of this simulator was that it ensured that no additional constraint was being imposed on the growth equations, and that initial conditions were identical. We then simulated growth for a 15- and 30-year period for Austrian permanent research plots in Arnoldstein and in Litschau, which represent stands at different age-classes and densities. We also simulated growth of open-grown trees and compared the results to the literature. We found that the general pattern of height:diameter ratios was correctly predicted by all four individual-tree growth models, with height:diameter ratios above that of open-grown trees and below that of very dense stands. All models showed a decrease of height:diameter ratios with age and an increase with stand density. Also, the height:diameter ratios of dominant trees were always lower than that of mean trees. Although in some cases the observed and predicted height:diameter ratios matched well, there were cases where discrepancies between observed and predicted height:diameter ratios would be unacceptable for practical management predictions.
PMCID: PMC2987550  PMID: 21151352
Stand stability; Height:diameter ratio; Individual-tree growth model; Model evaluation; Open-grown trees
12.  Tree Growth and Competition in a Betula platyphylla–Larix cajanderi Post-fire Forest in Central Kamchatka 
Annals of Botany  2004;94(3):333-343.
• Background and Aims Fire is the dominant disturbance in central Kamchatka boreal forests, yet patterns and mechanisms of stand recovery have not been investigated.
• Methods Measurements were made of 1433 stems ≥1·3 m height and annual radial increments of 225 randomly selected trees in a 0·4-ha plot of a 53-year-old fire-origin mixed-species stand to examine the spatio-temporal variation in establishment, growth, size inequality and the mode of competition among individual trees. Growth variations were related to tree size, age and local interference with neighbours.
• Key Results Betula platyphylla formed the main canopy following a fire in 1947, with Larix cajanderi and Pinus pumila progressively reinvading the lower tree and shrub stratum. Most B. platyphylla originated from sprouts in small patches (polycormons) during the first 15 post-fire years. Betula platyphylla had normal distributions of diameter and age classes, but negatively skewed height distribution, as expected from shade-intolerant, pioneer species. Larix cajanderi had fewer tall and many short individuals. The smaller and younger B. platyphylla grew disproportionately more in diameter than larger trees from 1950 to 1975, and hence stem size inequalities decreased. The reverse trend was observed from 1995 to 2000: larger trees grew more, indicating an increasing asymmetry of competition for light. Betula platyphylla had steady diameter growth in the first 25 post-fire years, after which the growth declined in smaller trees. Neighbourhood analysis showed that the decline resulted from increased competition from taller neighbours.
• Conclusions The observed growth patterns suggest that mode of interactions altered during stand development from early stages of weak competition for soil resources released by fire to later stages of asymmetric competition for light. Asymmetric crown competition started later than reported in other studies, which can be attributed to the lower stem density leaving much space for individual growth, greater relative importance of below-ground competition in this site of nutrient-poor volcanic soil, and the vegetative origin of B. platyphylla. Larix cajanderi growing under B. platyphylla had steady diameter growth during the first 20 years, after which growth declined. It is suggested that early succession fits the tolerance model of succession, while inhibition dominates in later stages.
PMCID: PMC4242174  PMID: 15256381
Size-dependent growth; individual-based spatial competition model; Ripley's K-function; stem size variability; competitive asymmetry; Richards model; stem allometry
13.  Evidence of variant intra- and interspecific scaling of tree crown structure and relevance for allometric theory 
Oecologia  2012;169(3):637-649.
General scaling rules or constants for metabolic and structural plant allometry as assumed by the theory of Euclidian geometric scaling (2/3-scaling) or metabolic scaling (3/4-scaling) may meet human’s innate propensity for simplicity and generality of pattern and processes in nature. However, numerous empirical works show that variability of crown structure rather than constancy is essential for a tree’s success in coping with crowding. In order to link theory and empiricism, we analyzed the intra- and inter-specific scaling of crown structure for 52 tree species. The basis is data from 84 long-term plots of temperate monospecific forests under survey since 1870 and a set of 126 yield tables of angiosperm and gymnosperm forest tree species across the world. The study draws attention to (1) the intra-specific variation and correlation of the three scaling relationships: tree height versus trunk diameter, crown cross-sectional area versus trunk diameter, and tree volume versus trunk diameter, and their dependence on competition, (2) the inter-specific variation and correlation of the same scaling exponents (\documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$$ {\upalpha}_{h,d}, {\upalpha}_{{\text{csa,}}d} $$\end{document} and \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$$ {{\upalpha}}_{v,d} $$\end{document}) across 52 tree species, and (3) the relevance of the revealed variable scaling of crown structure for leaf organs and metabolic scaling. Our results arrive at suggesting a more extended metabolic theory of ecology which includes variability and covariation between allometric relationships as prerequisite for the individual plant’s competitiveness.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00442-011-2240-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3375085  PMID: 22237660
Structural allometry; Euclidian geometry; Metabolic scaling theory; Fractal dimension; Self-thinning
14.  Phenotypic Plasticity of Growth Trajectory and Ontogenic Allometry in Response to Density for Eucalyptus Hybrid Clones and Families 
Annals of Botany  2005;96(5):811-821.
• Background and Aims Response to density is a crucial aspect of the ecology of trees in forests and plantations. Few studies have investigated the genetics of plasticity in response to density for growth traits such as height and circumference through development.
• Methods Two experiments were carried out in the field, the first with full-sib families of Eucalyptus urophylla × E. grandis hybrids, and the second with clones of E. tereticornis × E. grandis hybrids planted across a range of densities (625, 1111 and 2500 trees ha−1). Height, circumference and stem taper were measured through development in both experiments. Variance components were estimated and a repeated measure approach for plasticity and three different methods were used to compare the variance–covariance matrix across densities.
• Key Results Genetic variance was significantly different from zero but the density × genotype interaction was significant only for clone experiments at the adult stage. Significant plasticity for three traits in both experiments was found. In the clone experiments, a significant clone × time × density interaction was found, suggesting that plasticity for growth and stem form is under genetic control. In both experiments, density did not affect environmental correlation, which remained high throughout tree development. The impact of density on genetic correlation was marked in the clone experiment, with a reduced value at lower density, but was not observed in the family trial. The differences between clones and family are mainly explained by the distribution of genetic variation within and among genotypes.
• Conclusions The results suggest that plasticity for growth traits and form of tropical Eucalyptus species is under genetic control and that the environment changes genetic co-variation through ontogeny. The findings confirm that a tree population with a narrow genetic basis (represented by clones) is sensitive to a changing environment, whereas a population with a broader genetic basis (full-sib family here) exhibits a more stable reaction.
PMCID: PMC4247045  PMID: 16043439
Height; circumference; growth trajectory; allometry; density; phenotypic plasticity; variance components; correlation; Eucalyptus; hybrid; clones; full-sib family
15.  Uniform versus Asymmetric Shading Mediates Crown Recession in Conifers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104187.
In this study we explore the impact of asymmetrical vs. uniform crown shading on the mortality and growth of upper and lower branches within tree crowns, for two conifer species: shade intolerant lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and shade tolerant white spruce (Picea glauca). We also explore xylem hydraulics, foliar nutrition, and carbohydrate status as drivers for growth and expansion of the lower and upper branches in various types of shading. This study was conducted over a two-year period across 10 regenerating forest sites dominated by lodgepole pine and white spruce, in the lower foothills of Alberta, Canada. Trees were assigned to one of four shading treatments: (1), complete uniform shading of the entire tree, (2) light asymmetric shading where the lower 1/4–1/3 of the tree crown was shaded, (3) heavy asymmetric shading as in (2) except with greater light reduction and (4) control in which no artificial shading occurred and most of the entire crown was exposed to full light. Asymmetrical shading of only the lower crown had a larger negative impact on the bud expansion and growth than did uniform shading, and the effect was stronger in pine relative to spruce. In addition, lower branches in pine also had lower carbon reserves, and reduced xylem-area specific conductivity compared to spruce. For both species, but particularly the pine, the needles of lower branches tended to store less C than upper branches in the asymmetric shade, which could suggest a movement of reserves away from the lower branches. The implications of these findings correspond with the inherent shade tolerance and self-pruning behavior of these conifers and supports a carbon based mechanism for branch mortality – mediated by an asymmetry in light exposure of the crown.
PMCID: PMC4138101  PMID: 25136823
16.  Patterns and Drivers of Tree Mortality in Iberian Forests: Climatic Effects Are Modified by Competition 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56843.
Tree mortality is a key process underlying forest dynamics and community assembly. Understanding how tree mortality is driven by simultaneous drivers is needed to evaluate potential effects of climate change on forest composition. Using repeat-measure information from c. 400,000 trees from the Spanish Forest Inventory, we quantified the relative importance of tree size, competition, climate and edaphic conditions on tree mortality of 11 species, and explored the combined effect of climate and competition. Tree mortality was affected by all of these multiple drivers, especially tree size and asymmetric competition, and strong interactions between climate and competition were found. All species showed L-shaped mortality patterns (i.e. showed decreasing mortality with tree size), but pines were more sensitive to asymmetric competition than broadleaved species. Among climatic variables, the negative effect of temperature on tree mortality was much larger than the effect of precipitation. Moreover, the effect of climate (mean annual temperature and annual precipitation) on tree mortality was aggravated at high competition levels for all species, but especially for broadleaved species. The significant interaction between climate and competition on tree mortality indicated that global change in Mediterranean regions, causing hotter and drier conditions and denser stands, could lead to profound effects on forest structure and composition. Therefore, to evaluate the potential effects of climatic change on tree mortality, forest structure must be considered, since two systems of similar composition but different structure could radically differ in their response to climatic conditions.
PMCID: PMC3581527  PMID: 23451096
17.  Leaf Life Span Plasticity in Tropical Seedlings Grown under Contrasting Light Regimes 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(2):245-255.
• Background and Aims The phenotypic plasticity of leaf life span in response to low resource conditions has a potentially large impact on the plant carbon budget, notably in evergreen species not subject to seasonal leaf shedding, but has rarely been well documented. This study evaluates the plasticity of leaf longevity, in terms of its quantitative importance to the plant carbon balance under limiting light.
• Methods Seedlings of four tropical tree species with contrasting light requirements (Alstonia scholaris, Hevea brasiliensis, Durio zibethinus and Lansium domesticum) were grown under three light regimes (full sunlight, 45 % sunlight and 12 % sunlight). Their leaf dynamics were monitored over 18 months.
• Results All species showed a considerable level of plasticity with regard to leaf life span: over the range of light levels explored, the ratio of the range to the mean value of life span varied from 29 %, for the least plastic species, to 84 %, for the most. The common trend was for leaf life span to increase with decreasing light intensity. The plasticity apparent in leaf life span was similar in magnitude to the plasticity observed in specific leaf area and photosynthetic rate, implying that it has a significant impact on carbon gain efficiency when plants acclimate to different light regimes. In all species, median survival time was negatively correlated with leaf photosynthetic capacity (or its proxy, the nitrogen content per unit area) and leaf emergence rate.
• Conclusions Longer leaf life spans under low light are likely to be a consequence of slower ageing as a result of a slower photosynthetic metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2803358  PMID: 16299004
Alstonia scholaris; carbon balance; Durio zibethinus; Hevea brasiliensis; Lansium domesticum; leaf life span; light; plasticity
18.  A Lidar Point Cloud Based Procedure for Vertical Canopy Structure Analysis And 3D Single Tree Modelling in Forest 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2008;8(6):3938-3951.
A procedure for both vertical canopy structure analysis and 3D single tree modelling based on Lidar point cloud is presented in this paper. The whole area of research is segmented into small study cells by a raster net. For each cell, a normalized point cloud whose point heights represent the absolute heights of the ground objects is generated from the original Lidar raw point cloud. The main tree canopy layers and the height ranges of the layers are detected according to a statistical analysis of the height distribution probability of the normalized raw points. For the 3D modelling of individual trees, individual trees are detected and delineated not only from the top canopy layer but also from the sub canopy layer. The normalized points are resampled into a local voxel space. A series of horizontal 2D projection images at the different height levels are then generated respect to the voxel space. Tree crown regions are detected from the projection images. Individual trees are then extracted by means of a pre-order forest traversal process through all the tree crown regions at the different height levels. Finally, 3D tree crown models of the extracted individual trees are reconstructed. With further analyses on the 3D models of individual tree crowns, important parameters such as crown height range, crown volume and crown contours at the different height levels can be derived.
PMCID: PMC3714669
Lidar; Point Cloud; Single Tree; Crown; 3D Modelling
19.  Relationships of tree height and diameter at breast height revisited: analyses of stem growth using 20-year data of an even-aged Chamaecyparis obtusa stand 
Tree Physiology  2013;33(1):106-118.
Stem diameter at breast height (DBH) and tree height (H) are commonly used measures of tree growth. We examined patterns of height growth and diameter growth along a stem using a 20-year record of an even-aged hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa (Siebold & Zucc.) Endl.) stand. In the region of the stem below the crown (except for the butt swell), diameter growth rates (ΔD) at different heights tended to increase slightly from breast height upwards. This increasing trend was pronounced in suppressed trees, but not as much as the variation in ΔD among individual trees. Hence, ΔD below the crown can be regarded as generally being represented by the DBH growth rate (ΔDBH) of a tree. Accordingly, the growth rate of the stem cross-sectional area increased along the stem upwards in suppressed trees, but decreased in dominant trees. The stem diameter just below the crown base (DCB), the square of which is an index of the amount of leaves on a tree, was an important factor affecting ΔDBH. DCB also had a strong positive relationship with crown length. Hence, long-term changes in the DCB of a tree were associated with long-term changes in crown length, determined by the balance between the height growth rate (ΔH) and the rising rate of the crown base (ΔHCB). Within the crown, ΔD's were generally greater than the rates below the crown. Even dying trees (ΔD ≈ 0 below the crown) maintained ΔD > 0 within the crown and ΔH > 0 until about 5 years before death. This growth within the crown may be related to the need to produce new leaves to compensate for leaves lost owing to the longevity of the lower crown. These results explain the different time trajectories in DBH–H relationships among individual trees, and also the long-term changes in the DBH–H relationships. The view that a rise in the crown base is strongly related to leaf turnover helps to interpret DBH–H relationships.
PMCID: PMC3556985  PMID: 23303367
allometry; crown rise; linear mixed models; pipe model theory; stem form; stem taper
20.  Modelling fruit-temperature dynamics within apple tree crowns using virtual plants 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(6):1111-1120.
Background and Aims
Fruit temperature results from a complex system involving the climate, the tree architecture, the fruit location within the tree crown and the fruit thermal properties. Despite much theoretical and experimental evidence for large differences (up to 10 °C in sunny conditions) between fruit temperature and air temperature, fruit temperature is never used in horticultural studies. A way of modelling fruit-temperature dynamics from climate data is addressed in this work.
The model is based upon three-dimensional virtual representation of apple trees and links three-dimensional virtual trees with a physical-based fruit-temperature dynamical model. The overall model was assessed by comparing model outputs to field measures of fruit-temperature dynamics.
Key Results
The model was able to simulate both the temperature dynamics at fruit scale, i.e. fruit-temperature gradients and departure from air temperature, and at the tree scale, i.e. the within-tree-crown variability in fruit temperature (average root mean square error value over fruits was 1·43 °C).
This study shows that linking virtual plants with the modelling of the physical plant environment offers a relevant framework to address the modelling of fruit-temperature dynamics within a tree canopy. The proposed model offers opportunities for modelling effects of the within-crown architecture on fruit thermal responses in horticultural studies.
PMCID: PMC3189830  PMID: 21474503
Three-dimensional; 3-D; tree architecture; light interception; energy balance; phylloclimate; Malus domestica
21.  Space sequestration below ground in old-growth spruce-beech forests—signs for facilitation? 
Scientists are currently debating the effects of mixing tree species for the complementary resource acquisition in forest ecosystems. In four unmanaged old-growth spruce-beech forests in strict nature reserves in southern Sweden and northern Germany we assessed forest structure and fine rooting profiles and traits (≤2 mm) by fine root sampling and the analysis of fine root morphology and biomass. These studies were conducted in selected tree groups with four different interspecific competition perspectives: (1) spruce as a central tree, (2) spruce as competitor, (3) beech as a central tree, and (4) beech as competitor. Mean values of life fine root attributes like biomass (FRB), length (FRL), and root area index (RAI) were significantly lower for spruce than for beech in mixed stands. Vertical profiles of fine root attributes adjusted to one unit of basal area (BA) exhibited partial root system stratification when central beech is growing with spruce competitors. In this constellation, beech was able to raise its specific root length (SRL) and therefore soil exploration efficiency in the subsoil, while increasing root biomass partitioning into deeper soil layers. According to relative values of fine root attributes (rFRA), asymmetric below-ground competition was observed favoring beech over spruce, in particular when central beech trees are admixed with spruce competitors. We conclude that beech fine rooting is facilitated in the presence of spruce by lowering competitive pressure compared to intraspecific competition whereas the competitive pressure for spruce is increased by beech admixture. Our findings underline the need of spatially differentiated approaches to assess interspecific competition below ground. Single-tree approaches and simulations of below-ground competition are required to focus rather on microsites populated by tree specimens as the basic spatial study area.
PMCID: PMC3747362  PMID: 24009616
Fagus sylvatica; Picea abies; root system stratification; fine root biomass (FRB); fine root length (FRL); fine root surface area index (RAI); specific root length (SRL); specific root surface area (SRA)
22.  Duration of shoot elongation in Scots pine varies within the crown and between years 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(6):1181-1191.
Background and Aims
Shoot elongation in boreal and temperate trees typically follows a sigmoid pattern where the onset and cessation of growth are related to accumulated effective temperature (thermal time). Previous studies on leader shoots suggest that while the maximum daily growth rate depends on the availability of resources to the shoot, the duration of the growth period may be an adaptation to long-term temperature conditions. However, other results indicate that the growth period may be longer in faster growing lateral shoots with higher availability of resources. This study investigates the interactions between the rate of elongation and the duration of the growth period in units of thermal time in lateral shoots of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).
Length development of 202 lateral shoots were measured approximately three times per week during seven growing seasons in 2–5 trees per year in a mature stand and in three trees during one growing season in a sapling stand. A dynamic shoot growth model was adapted for the analysis to determine (1) the maximum growth rate and (2) the thermal time reached at growth completion. The relationship between those two parameters and its variation between trees and years was analysed using linear mixed models.
Key Results
The shoots with higher maximum growth rate within a crown continued to grow for a longer period in any one year. Higher July–August temperature of the previous summer implied a higher requirement of thermal time for growth completion.
The results provide evidence that the requirement of thermal time for completion of lateral shoot extension in Scots pine may interact with resource availability to the shoot both from year to year and among shoots in a crown each year. If growing season temperatures rise in the future, this will affect not only the rate of shoot growth but its duration also.
PMCID: PMC3783244  PMID: 23985987
Annual course of growth; daily variation in growth; Scots pine; Pinus sylvestris; thermal growth requirement; thermal time; dynamic model; phenology
23.  A functional–structural model for radiata pine (Pinus radiata) focusing on tree architecture and wood quality 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(6):1155-1178.
Backgrounds and Aims
Functional–structural models are interesting tools to relate environmental and management conditions with forest growth. Their three-dimensional images can reveal important characteristics of wood used for industrial products. Like virtual laboratories, they can be used to evaluate relationships among species, sites and management, and to support silvicultural design and decision processes. Our aim was to develop a functional–structural model for radiata pine (Pinus radiata) given its economic importance in many countries.
The plant model uses the L-system language. The structure of the model is based on operational units, which obey particular rules, and execute photosynthesis, respiration and morphogenesis, according to their particular characteristics. Plant allometry is adhered to so that harmonic growth and plant development are achieved. Environmental signals for morphogenesis are used. Dynamic turnover guides the normal evolution of the tree. Monthly steps allow for detailed information of wood characteristics. The model is independent of traditional forest inventory relationships and is conceived as a mechanistic model. For model parameterization, three databases which generated new information relating to P. radiata were analysed and incorporated.
Key Results
Simulations under different and contrasting environmental and management conditions were run and statistically tested. The model was validated against forest inventory data for the same sites and times and against true crown architectural data. The performance of the model for 6-year-old trees was encouraging. Total height, diameter and lengths of growth units were adequately estimated. Branch diameters were slightly overestimated. Wood density values were not satisfactory, but the cyclical pattern and increase of growth rings were reasonably well modelled.
The model was able to reproduce the development and growth of the species based on mechanistic formulations. It may be valuable in assessing stand behaviour under different environmental and management conditions, assisting in decision-making with regard to management, and as a research tool to formulate hypothesis regarding forest tree growth and development.
PMCID: PMC3189843  PMID: 21987452
Functional–structural plant model; wood quality; internodes; knots; wood density; growth ring; photosynthesis; respiration; allometry; plant architecture; carbon allocation; Pinus radiata
24.  Responses of leaf structure and photosynthetic properties to intra-canopy light gradients: a common garden test with four broadleaf deciduous angiosperm and seven evergreen conifer tree species 
Oecologia  2012;170(1):11-24.
Spectra of leaf traits in northern temperate forest canopies reflect major differences in leaf longevity between evergreen conifers and deciduous broadleaf angiosperms, as well as plastic modifications caused by within-crown shading. We investigated (1) whether long-lived conifer leaves exhibit similar intra-canopy plasticity as short-lived broadleaves, and (2) whether global interspecific relationships between photosynthesis, nitrogen, and leaf structure identified for sun leaves adequately describe leaves differentiated in response to light gradients. We studied structural and photosynthetic properties of intra-tree sun and shade foliage in adult trees of seven conifer and four broadleaf angiosperm species in a common garden in Poland. Shade leaves exhibited lower leaf mass-per-area (LMA) than sun leaves; however, the relative difference was smaller in conifers than in broadleaves. In broadleaves, LMA was correlated with lamina thickness and tissue density, while in conifers, it was correlated with thickness but not density. In broadleaves, but not in conifers, reduction of lamina thickness was correlated with a thinner palisade layer. The more conservative adjustment of conifer leaves could result from a combination of phylogenetic constraints, contrasting leaf anatomies and shoot geometries, but also from functional requirements of long-lived foliage. Mass-based nitrogen concentration (Nmass) was similar between sun and shade leaves, and was lower in conifers than in deciduous broadleaved species. Given this, the smaller LMA in shade corresponded with a lower area-based N concentration (Narea). In evergreen conifers, LMA and Narea were less powerful predictors of area-based photosynthetic rate (Amax(area)) in comparison with deciduous broadleaved angiosperms. Multiple regression for sun and shade leaves showed that, in each group, Amax(mass) was related to Nmass but not to LMA, whereas LMA became a significant codeterminant of Amax(mass) in analysis combining both groups. Thus, a fundamental mass-based relationship between photosynthesis, nitrogen, and leaf structure reported previously also exists in a dataset combining within-crown and across-functional type variation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00442-012-2279-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3422461  PMID: 22349756
Plant functional types; Leaf plasticity; Shade acclimation; Evergreen leaves; Leaf mass-per-area
25.  Cork Oak Vulnerability to Fire: The Role of Bark Harvesting, Tree Characteristics and Abiotic Factors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39810.
Forest ecosystems where periodical tree bark harvesting is a major economic activity may be particularly vulnerable to disturbances such as fire, since debarking usually reduces tree vigour and protection against external agents. In this paper we asked how cork oak Quercus suber trees respond after wildfires and, in particular, how bark harvesting affects post-fire tree survival and resprouting. We gathered data from 22 wildfires (4585 trees) that occurred in three southern European countries (Portugal, Spain and France), covering a wide range of conditions characteristic of Q. suber ecosystems. Post-fire tree responses (tree mortality, stem mortality and crown resprouting) were examined in relation to management and ecological factors using generalized linear mixed-effects models. Results showed that bark thickness and bark harvesting are major factors affecting resistance of Q. suber to fire. Fire vulnerability was higher for trees with thin bark (young or recently debarked individuals) and decreased with increasing bark thickness until cork was 3–4 cm thick. This bark thickness corresponds to the moment when exploited trees are debarked again, meaning that exploited trees are vulnerable to fire during a longer period. Exploited trees were also more likely to be top-killed than unexploited trees, even for the same bark thickness. Additionally, vulnerability to fire increased with burn severity and with tree diameter, and was higher in trees burned in early summer or located in drier south-facing aspects. We provided tree response models useful to help estimating the impact of fire and to support management decisions. The results suggested that an appropriate management of surface fuels and changes in the bark harvesting regime (e.g. debarking coexisting trees in different years or increasing the harvesting cycle) would decrease vulnerability to fire and contribute to the conservation of cork oak ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC3386235  PMID: 22787521

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