Journal Article

Exploring Ecological Significance of Tree Crown Plasticity through Three-dimensional Modelling

G. Vincent and D. Harja

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 101, issue 8, pages 1221-1231
Published in print May 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcm189
Exploring Ecological Significance of Tree Crown Plasticity through Three-dimensional Modelling

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

Morphogenetic plasticity may be as important as physiological plasticity in determining plant adaptability to changing environmental conditions. This study examines the importance of crown plasticity of trees in stands.

Methods

A three-dimensional forest simulator is used to explore the impact of crown shape plasticity on tree growth. Crown deformation is mediated through the local response to light and overall allometric constraints governing tree dimensions. By altering shape response parameters of Hevea brasiliensis the impact of increased or decreased plasticity is explored in a variety of competitive environments defined by various combinations of tree density and relative frequency of different strategies. The possible interactions between plasticity and growth rate and plasticity and below-ground competition are also explored.

Key Results

Crown plasticity confers competitive superiority in all cases studied. Interactions with other processes may downplay or enhance this competitive advantage.

Conclusions

Simulation results strongly suggest that crown plasticity does have a significant impact on tree performance in nature and that commonly observed crown shape deformation response of trees is of adaptive value.

Keywords: Crown plasticity; 3D simulation; individual-based model; competition

Journal Article.  7461 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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