Forests, Vol. 14, Pages 1066: Do Distance-Dependent Competition Indices Contribute to Improve Diameter and Total Height Tree Growth Prediction in Juvenile Cork Oak Plantations?
Forests doi: 10.3390/f14051066
Paulo Neves Firmino
Joana Amaral Paulo
Competition indices may improve tree growth modelling in high-density stands, found often in new cork oak plantations. Distance-dependent competition indices have hardly been considered for juvenile cork oak plantations since existing models were developed for low-density mature stands. This study aims at inspecting the potential of including distance-dependent competition indices into diameter at breast height (d) and total height (h) growth models for Quercus suber L., comparing several distance-dependent and distance-independent competition indices. Annual d and h growth were modelled with linear and non-linear growth functions, formulated as difference equations. Base models were initially fitted considering parameter estimates depending only on site index (S) and/or stand density (N). They were refitted, testing the significance of adding each competition index to the model parameters. Selected models included the best-performing distance-dependent or -independent competition indices as additional predictors. Best base d and h growth models showed a modelling efficiency (ef) of ef = 0.9833 and ef = 0.9900, respectively. Adding a distance-dependent competition index slightly improved growth models, to an ef = 0.9851 for d and ef = 0.9902 for h. Best distance-dependent competition indices slightly overperformed distance-independent ones in diameter growth models. Neither S nor N were included on best fitted models. If inter-tree competition is present in juvenile undebarked cork oak plantations, it does not yet strongly impact individual tree growth, which may diminish the importance of using, at this stage, more complex spatially explicit competition indices on predicting individual tree growth.
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