One of the most fascinating topics in ecology is the exploration of interactions between plants, specifically in long-lived organisms, such as trees. In this context, it is generally assumed that tree-tree interactions are dominated by competition for resources such as light, water or nutrients.
Writing in Nature Communications (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-03529-w) ecologists from TU Dresden in cooperation with the Leuphana University Lüneburg, the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, the Beijing Forestry University and the German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv, Leipzig) now report that this view is generally not wrong, but our understanding of how trees interact is still limited.
For a decade, researchers explore how tree species diversity affects the coexistence of trees and their growth performance in the largest biodiversity experiment with trees worldwide, the so-called ‘BEF-China’ experiment. One of the main interests of the BEF-China team is to explore the relationship between tree diversity and multiple ecosystem functions, specifically those benefitting society, such as wood production or the mitigation of soil erosion.
For this purpose, an experimental site of c. 50 hectare in subtropical China was planted with more than 400,000 trees and shrubs. Trees have achieved a height of 10 to 15 m and their crowns have formed a dense canopy by that time.
The findings now shed new light on tree-tree interactions: The local environment of a tree strongly determine its productivity, meaning that tree individuals growing in a species-rich neighbourhood produce more wood than those surrounded by neighbours of the same species.
„Particularly impressive is the finding that the interrelations of a tree with its immediate neighbours induce higher productivity of the entire tree community (i.e. the forest stand), and that such local neighbourhood interactions explain more than 50% of the total forest stand productivity”, says forest ecologist Dr. Andreas Fichtner.
The importance of local neighbourhood interactions in regulating forest stand productivity increases as forest stands were richer in tree species. These findings show that the coexistence of neighbouring trees and their small-scale interactions are substantial in explaining the productivity of species-rich mixed forests.
The scientists were also able to identify mechanisms explaining why species-rich neighbourhoods promote tree productivity. Their findings show that competition is less prevalent in species-rich neighbourhoods and that species-rich neighbourhoods can even lead to facilitation by e.g. an improvement of the microclimatic conditions or by positive interactions with soil fungi.
„These findings contribute to a deeper understanding of tree interactions and the functioning of forest ecosystems, and are particularly relevant for nature conservation and forestry”, says Prof. Dr. Goddert von Oheimb from the Department of Forest Sciences at the TU Dresden.
For instance, afforestation programs in countries that have experienced dramatic deforestation in the past, may benefit from planting multiple native tree species at the smallest spatial scale (i.e., the local neighbourhood level) instead of planting monocultures or mixing monospecific patches at larger spatial scales. Furthermore, the study emphasizes the importance of long-term measures preserving global biodiversity.
This in turn will benefit the multifunctionality of forest ecosystems and their associated ecosystem services benefitting the society. “This shows that biodiversity conservation is not exclusively an ecological or ethical issue, but rather a necessity ensuring socio-economic welfare”, says Dr. Andreas Fichtner.
Andreas Fichtner, Werner Härdtle, Helge Bruelheide, Matthias Kunz, Ying Li, Goddert von Oheimb (2018): Neighbourhood interactions drive overyielding in mixed-species tree communities. Nature Communications 9:1144. DOI: 10.1038/ s41467-018-03529-w
Prof. Goddert von Oheimb
Tel.: +49 (0) 351 463-31288
(further information can be found under http://www.bef-china.de/index.php/en/)
Kim-Astrid Magister | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Giving a chip about masa
18.07.2019 | American Society of Agronomy
Global farming trends threaten food security
11.07.2019 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone. The scientists will publish the results shortly in the journal Nano Letters.
In the electronics and computer industry, components are becoming ever smaller and more powerful. However, there are problems with the heat generation. It is...
Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.
Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...
Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.
Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...
For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.
Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...
An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".
The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.07.2019 | Earth Sciences