Journal Article

Ontogenetic variation in the relative influence of light and belowground resources on European beech seedling growth

Christian Ammer, Bernd Stimm and Reinhard Mosandl

in Tree Physiology

Volume 28, issue 5, pages 721-728
Published in print May 2008 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/28.5.721
Ontogenetic variation in the relative influence of light and belowground resources on European beech seedling growth

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We used height growth data from a 7-year field experiment with European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) seedlings to test the hypothesis that the effects of above- and belowground resources on height growth depend on seedling size and age. Photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was determined by hemispheric photography, and estimates of fine root biomass of the overstory trees were used as an inverse proportional surrogate for belowground resource availability. For recently germinated seedlings growing under the canopy of Picea abies (L.) Karst., belowground resource availability affected height growth more than light. During subsequent stages of seedling development, apart from initial seedling size, PAR increasingly determined seedling growth. Besides initial size, seedling age determined the effects of above- and belowground resources on seedling height growth. In seedlings identical in initial size but differing in age, the increase in height growth with increasing PAR was greater in older seedlings than in younger seedlings. The ranking of seedling height by year showed that small differences in size at the end of the first growing season resulted in continuously increasing differences during the following years. Mortality data indicated that the chances of a seedling surviving intraspecific competition was strongly determined by its dominance ranking within the first 5 years after establishment.

Keywords: Fagus sylvatica; initial height; intraspecific competition; ontogenesis; resource availability

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Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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