Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“How trees coexist” – new findings from biodiversity research published in Nature Communications

22.03.2018

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.


Tree diversity experiment BEF-China, September 2016

Goddert von Oheimb

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.

Original publication:
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

Media inquiries:
Prof. Goddert von Oheimb
Tel.: +49 (0) 351 463-31288
Email: Goddert_v_Oheimb@tu-dresden.de

(further information can be found under http://www.bef-china.de/index.php/en/)

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-03529-w
http://www.bef-china.de/index.php/en/

Kim-Astrid Magister | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Back to Nature: Palm oil plantations are being turned back into protected rainforest
21.03.2019 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

nachricht The inner struggle of the evening primrose: Chloroplasts are caught up in an evolutionary arms race
14.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

Im Focus: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

To proliferate or not to proliferate

21.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Magnetic micro-boats

21.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Motorless pumps and self-regulating valves made from ultrathin film

21.03.2019 | HANNOVER MESSE

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>