Species proportions by area in mixtures of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.)
de Streel, G.
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Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) dominate many of the European forest stands. Also, mixtures of European beech and Scots pine more or less occur over all European countries, but have been scarcely investigated. The area occupied by each species is of high relevance, especially for growth evaluation and comparison of different species in mixed and monospecific stands. Thus, we studied different methods to describe species proportions and their definition as proportion by area. 25 triplets consisting of mixed and monospecific stands were established across Europe ranging from Lithuania to Spain in northern to southern direction and from Bulgaria to Belgium in eastern to western direction. On stand level, the conclusive method for estimating the species proportion as a fraction of the stand area relates the observed density (tree number or basal area) to its potential. This stand-level estimation makes use of the potential from comparable neighboring monospecific stands or from maximum density lines derived from other data, e.g. forest inventories or permanent observations plots. At tree level, the fraction of the stand area occupied by a species can be derived from the proportions of their crown projection area or of their leaf area. The estimates of the potentials obtained from neighboring monospecific stands, especially in older stands, were poorer than those from the maximum density line depending on the Martonne aridity index. Therefore, the stand-level method in combination with the Martonne aridity index for potential densities can be highly recommended. The species' proportions estimated with this method are best approximated by the proportions of the species' leaf areas. In forest practice, the most commonly applied method is an ocular estimation of the proportions by crown projection area. Even though the proportions of pine were calculated here by measuring crown projection areas in the field, we found this method to underestimate the proportion by 25% compared to the stand-level approach.