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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.
Findings - Light - Interactions - Environment - Tree
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...
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