Mixed forest in the Alps (M.Mina)

Project duration

2016-2018 (completed)

Project overview

Integrating Species Mixtures in Tree Growth Functions for Forest Development Models in Switzerland (Swiss-SpeMixMod)

The interest for mixed-species forests has been rising during the past years. There is a broad consensus that forests with higher species diversity are likely to be more adaptable to climate change, resilient to disturbances and provider of a higher level of ecosystem services. Although several studies showed that under certain conditions mixed-species forests can be more productive than single-species stands, the representation of species interactions in empirical forest scenario models has not received much attention so far.

The main objective of this project is to investigate methodologies for quantifying the effects of species mixtures on tree growth along Switzerland’s environmental gradients, and to prepare this knowledge for the use in forest scenario calculations. The project comprises of three major parts: (1) a systematic, descriptive analysis of data from the Swiss National Forest Inventory (NFI) to provide an overview of the frequency and the distribution of pure and mixed forests in Switzerland; (2) quantification of mixing effects with nonlinear mixed-effect models fitted to NFI data and their variability with climatic, edaphic, stand and site conditions, as well as with species composition, across Switzerland’s environmental gradient; (3) identification of the different modes of intra- and inter-specific interactions using competition indices in Swiss mixed-species forests and their integration in growth functions.

The project advances the understanding of the effects of species mixtures on tree growth under a broad range of environmental conditions in Switzerland. Additionally, it prepares this knowledge for further development of state-of-the-art forest scenario models, which are crucial tools for estimating potential wood supply and for supporting management decisions.

The project has been carried out by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmesdorf, Switzerland. Part of the project was developed in partnership with INIA Madrid, Spain who hosted Marco Mina for a research stay in January and May 2017.

The project has been supported by a grant from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) under the framework of the COST Action FP1206 EuMIXFOR of the European Union.

Partners and collaborators

Key publications

Mina M, Huber MO, Forrester DI, Thürig E, Rohner B (2018) Multiple factors modulate tree growth complementarity in central European mixed forests. Journal of Ecology. 106:1106–1119. Featured in the Journal of Ecology Blog

Mina M, Del Rio M, Huber MO, Thürig E, Rohner B (2018) The symmetry of competitive interactions in mixed Norway spruce, silver fir and European beech forests. Journal of Vegetation Science. 29:775–787. Featured in the Journal of Vegetation Science Blog and in the EFI Resilience Blog

Nikolova, P.S.; Rohner, B.; Zell, J.; Brang, P., (2019) Tree species dynamics in Swiss forests as affected by site, stand and management: a retrospective analysis. Forest Ecology and Management, 448: 278-293.

Marco Mina
Marco Mina
Senior Researcher

Forest ecologist, cross-country skier and mountain lover.