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Production and carbon allocation in monocultures and mixed-species plantations of Eucalyptus grandis and Acacia mangium in Brazil

Nouvellon Y., Laclau J.P., Epron D., Le Maire G., Bonnefond J.M., Gonçalves J.L.M., Bouillet J.P.. 2012. Tree Physiology, 32 (6) : p. 680-695.

DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tps041

Introducing nitrogen-fixing tree species in fast-growing eucalypt plantations has the potential to improve soil nitrogen availability compared with eucalypt monocultures. Whether or not the changes in soil nutrient status and stand structure will lead to mixtures that out-yield monocultures depends on the balance between positive interactions and the negative effects of interspecific competition, and on their effect on carbon (C) uptake and partitioning. We used a C budget approach to quantify growth, C uptake and C partitioning in monocultures of Eucalyptus grandis (W. Hill ex Maiden) and Acacia mangium (Willd.) (treatments E100 and A100, respectively), and in a mixture at the same stocking density with the two species at a proportion of 1 : 1 (treatment MS). Allometric relationships established over the whole rotation, and measurements of soil CO2 efflux and aboveground litterfall for ages 4-6 years after planting were used to estimate aboveground net primary production (ANPP), total belowground carbon flux (TBCF) and gross primary production (GPP). We tested the hypotheses that (i) species differences for wood production between E. grandis and A. mangium monocultures were partly explained by different C partitioning strategies, and (ii) the observed lower wood production in the mixture compared with eucalypt monoculture was mostly explained by a lower partitioning aboveground. At the end of the rotation, total aboveground biomass was lowest in A100 (10.5 kg DM m?2), intermediate in MS (12.2 kg DM m?2) and highest in E100 (13.9 kg DM m?2). The results did not support our first hypothesis of contrasting C partitioning strategies between E. grandis and A. mangium monocultures: the 21% lower growth (?Bw) in A100 compared with E100 was almost entirely explained by a 23% lower GPP, with little or no species difference in ratios such as TBCF/GPP, ANPP/TBCF, ?Bw/ANPP and ?Bw/GPP. In contrast, the 28% lower ?Bw in MS than in E100 was explained both by a 15% lower GPP and by a 15% lower fraction of GPP allocated to wood growth, thus partially supporting our second hypothesis: mixing the two species led to shifts in C allocations from above- to belowground, and from growth to litter production, for both species.

Mots-clés : eucalyptus grandis; acacia mangium; cycle du carbone; croissance; plantations; productivité primaire; fixation biologique de l'azote; matière organique du sol; gaz à effet de serre; dioxyde de carbone; disponibilité nutriments (sol); arbre fixateur d'azote; fertilité du sol; biomasse; sao paulo

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