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Data from: Tree-to-tree competition in mixed European beech-Scots pine forests has different impacts on growth and water-use efficiency depending on site conditions

Citation

González de Andrés, Ester et al. (2018), Data from: Tree-to-tree competition in mixed European beech-Scots pine forests has different impacts on growth and water-use efficiency depending on site conditions, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kj3km

Abstract

1. Mixed conifer-hardwood forests can be more productive than pure forests and they are increasingly considered as ecosystems that could provide adaptation strategies in the face of global change. However, the combined effects of tree-to-tree competition, rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations and climate on such mixtures remain poorly characterized and understood. 2. To fill this research gap, we reconstructed 34-year series (1980-2013) of growth (basal area increment, BAI) and intrinsic water-use efficiency (iWUE) of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) – European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) mixed stands at two climatically contrasting sites located in the southwestern Pyrenees. We also gathered data on tree-to-tree competition and climate variables in order to test the hypotheses that (i) radial growth will be greater when inter-specific competition exceeds intra-specific competition, i.e. when species complementarity occurs, and (ii) enhanced iWUE could be linked to improved stem radial growth. 3. Growth of both species was reduced when intra-specific competition increased. Species complementarity was linked to improved growth of Scots pine at the continental site, whilst competition overrode any complementarity advantage at the drought-prone Mediterranean site. Beech growth did not show any significant response to pine admixture likely due to shade tolerance and the highly competitive nature of this species. Increasing inter-specific competition drove recent iWUE changes, which increased in Scots pine but decreased in European beech. The iWUE enhancement did not involve any growth improvement in Scots pine. However, the positive BAI-iWUE relationship found for beech suggests an enhanced beech growth in drought-prone sites due to improved water use. 4. Synthesis. Complementarity may enhance growth in mixed forests. However, water scarcity can constrict light-related complementarity for shade intolerant species (Scots pine) in drought-prone sites. BAI-iWUE relationships were negative for Scots pine and positive for European beech. These contrasting behaviours have got implications for coping with the expected increasing drought events in Scots pine-European beech mixtures located near the ecological limit of the two species. Complementarity effects between tree species should be considered to avoid overestimating the degree of future carbon uptake by mixed conifer-broadleaf forests.

Usage Notes

Location

Europe