Species interactions under climate change in mixed stands of Scots pine and pedunculate oak

Bouwman, M.; Forrester, D.I.; Ouden, J. den; Nabuurs, G.J.; Mohren, G.M.J.


Mixed-species forests have become widely studied in the recent years because of their potential to mitigate risks associated with climate change. However, their growth dynamics are often difficult to predict because species interactions vary with climatic and edaphic conditions, stand structure and forest management. We examined species interactions in mixtures of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) under climate change and for varying soil conditions in the Netherlands, over a period of 30 years. We parameterized, calibrated and validated the 3-PGmix model for mixing effects in Scots pine and oak mixtures and analysed these effects under climate change. 3-PGmix performed well for the variety of forest stands examined throughout the Netherlands. Furthermore, it was also able to reproduce mixing effects for each species in mixtures compared to monocultures for the growing conditions examined. Simulated climate change resulted in lower productivity of oak and higher productivity of Scots pine, compared to the current climate. This was observed for both monospecific stands and mixtures. The mixture of Scots pine and oak showed clear but limited overyielding (mixture yield greater than the mean of the monocultures), which was mainly attributed to oak. This was maintained under the most extreme climate scenario for 2050, implying that for oak, increased growth due to mixing with Scots pine was larger than the reduction in productivity under the future climate. On resource-limited soils, Scots pine competitiveness was increased, and this was maintained under a warmer and drier climate. Our results suggest that projected changes in climate will influence species interactions and result in increased Scots pine productivity, notably on poor sandy soils, which are typical of the Netherlands.