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How do trees respond to species mixing in experimental compared to observational studies?

Journal article
Authors S. Kambach
E. Allan
S. Bilodeau-Gauthier
D. A. Coomes
J. Haase
T. Jucker
G. Kunstler
S. Muller
C. Nock
A. Paquette
F. van der Plas
S. Ratcliffe
F. Roger
P. Ruiz-Benito
M. Scherer-Lorenzen
H. Auge
O. Bouriaud
B. Castagneyrol
J. Dahlgren
Lars Gamfeldt
H. Jactel
G. Kandler
J. Koricheva
A. Lehtonen
B. Muys
Q. Ponette
N. Setiawan
T. Van de Peer
K. Verheyen
M. A. Zavala
H. Bruelheide
Published in Ecology and Evolution
Volume 9
Issue 19
Pages 11254-11265
ISSN 2045-7758
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of marine sciences
Pages 11254-11265
Language en
Keywords biodiversity, ecosystem function and services, FunDivEUROPE, national forest inventories, diversity-productivity relationships, functional diversity, biodiversity, loss, ecosystem function, wood production, increases, richness, patterns, growth, competition, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Evolutionary Biology
Subject categories Ecology, Evolutionary Biology


For decades, ecologists have investigated the effects of tree species diversity on tree productivity at different scales and with different approaches ranging from observational to experimental study designs. Using data from five European national forest inventories (16,773 plots), six tree species diversity experiments (584 plots), and six networks of comparative plots (169 plots), we tested whether tree species growth responses to species mixing are consistent and therefore transferrable between those different research approaches. Our results confirm the general positive effect of tree species mixing on species growth (16% on average) but we found no consistency in species-specific responses to mixing between any of the three approaches, even after restricting comparisons to only those plots that shared similar mixtures compositions and forest types. These findings highlight the necessity to consider results from different research approaches when selecting species mixtures that should maximize positive forest biodiversity and functioning relationships.

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