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Data from: Genotypic traits and tradeoffs of fast growth in silver birch, a pioneer tree

Cite this dataset

Mikola, Juha et al. (2021). Data from: Genotypic traits and tradeoffs of fast growth in silver birch, a pioneer tree [Dataset]. Dryad.


Fast-growing and slow-growing plant species are suggested to show integrated economics spectrums and the tradeoffs of fast growth are predicted to emerge as susceptibility to herbivory and resource competition. We tested if these predictions also hold for fast-growing and slow-growing genotypes within a silver birch, Betula pendula population. We exposed cloned saplings of 17 genotypes with slow, medium or fast height growth to reduced insect herbivory, using an insecticide, and to increasing resource competition, using naturally varying field plot grass cover. We measured shoot and root growth, ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal production using ergosterol analysis and soil N transfer to leaves using 15N-labelled pulse of NH4+. We found that fast-growing genotypes grew on average 78% faster, produced 56% and 16% more leaf mass and ergosterol, and showed 78% higher leaf N uptake than slow-growing genotypes. The insecticide decreased leaf damage by 83% and increased shoot growth, leaf growth and leaf N uptake by 38%, 52% and 76%, without differences between the responses of fast-growing and slow-growing genotypes, whereas root mass decreased with increasing grass cover. Shoot and leaf growth of fast-growing genotypes decreased and EM fungal production of slow-growing genotypes increased with increasing grass cover. Our results suggest that fast growth is genotypically associated with higher allocation to EM fungi, better soil N capture and greater leaf production, and that the tradeoff of fast growth is sensitivity to competition, but not to insect herbivory. EM fungi may have a dual role: to support growth of fast-growing genotypes under low grass competition and to maintain growth of slow-growing genotypes under intensifying competition.


The dataset is from a field experiment, established in south Finland in 2009, where saplings of 17 silver birch (Betula pendula) genotypes were subjected to an insecticide treatment and naturally varying resource competition by grasses through growing seasons 2010 and 2011. Shoot growth was used to assign the genotypes into three growth classes: slow, moderate and fast. Data of aboveground attributes (shoot growth, leaf mass, leaf N concentration, leaf herbivory damage, uptake of soil N and top shoot damage) and roots (root mass, root allocation index) are from summer 2011, while the data of extomycorrhizal fungal growth (estimated as ergosterol mass) was collected in both 2010 and 2011.


Academy of Finland, Award: 1122444