The symmetry of competition: does the battle take place above or below our feet?

In this article, I talk about the “mode of competition”, in other words whether trees of different species compete more of aboveground or belowground resources when growing in mixed stands. Additionally, I highlight the advantage of mixed forests in the context of climate change.

If you have read some of my articles like What factors determine whether tree species compete or complement each other?, you know how much I like mixed forests. Forests rich in tree species not only are known for providing higher levels of ecosystem services but also be prompter to cope with unexpected disturbances and climatic changes. However, the mechanisms of competitions in multi-species forests are all but clear. Scientists are still studying which combinations of tree species grow better in a particular environment or what factor promote or reduce a positive growth complementarity in secondary forests and/or plantations. In one of my latest posts on the blog Forest Monitor I have tried to explain in simple terms the concept of how complementarity for a give species can be positive or negative when growing in association with other species depending on resource availability.