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Productivity of Three Young Mixed-Species Plantations Containing N2-Fixing Acacia and Non-N2-Fixing Eucalyptus and Pinus Trees in Southeastern Australia

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Mixed species plantations have the potential to exceed the biomass production of monocultures. This study examined the productivity of three mixed species plantations in southeastern Australia. Two of these trials contained a Eucalyptus sp. (E. saligna Smith or E. nitens [Deane & Maiden] Maiden) planted with Acacia mearnsii De Wild., and the other contained Pinus radiata D. Don with A. mearnsii, A. decurrens Willd., E. benthamii Maiden & Cambage, or E. smithii R. Baker. Each trial contained both monocultures and mixtures, and was replicated three or four times. Tree diameters or heights were smaller in mixture than monocultures for some species (P. radiata diameters of 5.9 cm and 7.0 cm in 2:1 mixtures with A. mearnsii and monocultures, respectively) but tended to increase (not significantly) for other species (E. nitens diameters of 10.6 cm and 8.5 cm and A. mearnsii diameters of 9.2 cm and 8.8 cm in 1:1 mixtures and monocultures, respectively). As a result, mixtures were intermediate in aboveground biomass production between monocultures of the mixed species in each trial, or they were not significantly different from the monocultures. Competition for resources other than nitrogen (N), such as light, soil moisture, or other nutrients, appeared to balance any positive effects that might have occurred, such as through increased N availability. For example, foliar N concentrations of E. saligna were higher in mixture (23.1 mg g−1) than monoculture (17.7 mg g−1); however, this did not result in greater aboveground tree biomass. The range of different growth responses from mixing different species in this study and in other studies shows that a fundamental understanding of the underlying processes is required to enable a greater predictive capacity of the circumstances under which mixtures can be successful.

Keywords: Acacia; Eucalyptus; Pinus radiata; competition; facilitation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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