Growth and species interactions of Eucalyptus pellita in a mixed and monoculture plantation in the humid tropics of north Queensland
Post-print of: Bristow, M, Vanclay, JK, Brooks, LO & Hunt, M 2006, 'Growth and species interactions of Eucalyptus pellita in a mixed and monoculture plantation in the humid tropics of north Queensland', Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 233, no. 2-3, pp. 285-294.
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This study investigated whether mixed-species designs can increase the growth of a tropical eucalypt when compared to monocultures. Monocultures of Eucalyptus pellita (E) and Acacia peregrina (A) and mixtures in various proportions (75E:25A, 50E:50A, 25E:75A) were planted in a replacement series design on the Atherton Tablelands of north Queensland, Australia. High mortality in the establishment phase due to repeated damage by tropical cyclones altered the trial design. Effects of experimental designs on tree growth were estimated using a linear mixed effects model with restricted maximum likelihood analysis (REML). Volume growth of individual eucalypt trees were positively affected by the presence of acacia trees at age five years and this effect generally increased with time up to age 10 years. However, the stand volume and basal area increased with increasing proportions of E. pellita, due to its larger individual tree size. Conventional analysis did not offer convincing support for mixed-species designs. Preliminary individual-based modelling using a modified Hegyi competition index offered a solution and an equation that indicates acacias have positive ecological interactions (facilitation or competitive reduction), and definitely do not cause competition like a eucalypt. These results suggest that significantly increased in growth rates could be achieved with mixed-species designs. This statistical methodology could enable a better understanding of species interactions in similarly altered experiments, or undesigned mixed-species plantations.