Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 416549
Title The relative importance of above- versus belowground competition for tree growth and survival during early succession of a tropical moist forest
Author(s) Breugel, M. van; Breugel, P. van; Jansen, P.A.; Martinez-Ramos, M.; Bongers, F.
Source Plant Ecology 213 (2012)1. - ISSN 1385-0237 - p. 25 - 34.
Department(s) Forest Ecology and Forest Management
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2012
Keyword(s) plant-populations - rain-forests - asymmetric competition - secondary succession - local interference - biomass allocation - light interception - size asymmetry - life-history - dry forest
Abstract Competition between neighboring plants plays a major role in the population dynamics of tree species in the early phases of humid tropical forest succession. We evaluated the relative importance of above- versus below-ground competition during the first years of old-field succession on soil with low fertility in Southern Mexico, using the premise that competition for light is size-asymmetric, unlike competition for nutrients. Plant growth is thus expected to be disproportionally impeded by larger neighbors. We studied how growth and survival of 3.5–5.5 m tall saplings of Cecropia peltata and Trichospermum mexicanum, two pioneer species that dominate the secondary forests in the study region, varied with the abundance and size of neighboring trees in 1–2 year old secondary vegetation. We found that local neighborhood basal area varied 10-fold (3 to 30 cm2 m-2) and explained most of the variation in diameter and height growth of the target saplings. Most growth variables were strongly affected by the neighbors bigger than the focal trees with no significant additive effect of the smaller neighbors, indicating asymmetric competition. Smaller neighbors did have a small but significant additive effect on the diameter growth of Cecropia saplings and stem slenderness of Trichospermum saplings. We conclude that competition for light was more important than belowground competition in this initial phase of moist tropical forest successional, despite the low soil fertility
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