Do tree-species richness, stand structure and ecological factors affect the photosynthetic efficiency in European forests?

Forest trees live in a multi-factor environment that includes the abiotic characteristics of the site (climate, soil, bedrock) and the structural features of the forest stand (tree age, density, leaf area index, tree species composition). The analysis of the functional traits (morphological, chemical and physiological) at leaf and tree level allows for the assessment and evaluation of the responses of trees to changing environmental factors. Among the physiological traits, the analysis of the chlorophyll fluorescence is an effective tool to assess in vivo plant stress in experimental studies.

It was found that

(1) Tree diversity affects the tree photosynthetic efficiency. The effects, detected with ChlF analysis are variable depending on the relative position of the tree crowns in the canopy layer as well as the competition at the aboveground (competition for light) and below-ground (competition for water and nutrients) levels.

(2) Data on young experimental plantation and mature forest cannot be compared because of the different degree of evolution of the forest
stand and soil.

(3) The multivariate statistical analyses of ChlF parameters allow for the identification of trees of the same species growing in different ecological condition and (although to a lesser extent) the effects of tree-species richness.


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