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Testing the impact of community composition on the productivity of a cool temperate eucalypt forest: The Australian Forest Evenness Experiment (AFEX)
Understanding the factors controlling productivity is crucial for modelling current and predicting future forest growth and carbon sequestration potential. Although abiotic conditions exert a strong influence on productivity, it is becoming increasingly evident that plant community composition can dramatically influence ecosystem processes. However, much of our understanding of these processes in forests comes from correlative studies or field experiments in short-statured, short-lived vegetation. Here, we present the background, design and implementation success of the Australian Forest Evenness Experiment (AFEX), which was designed to investigate the influence of community composition on the processes that contribute to forest productivity. Eighty 25 × 25-m plots, covering 5 ha in a logged, burnt forest coupe in south-eastern Tasmania were sown with four tree species, namely Eucalyptus delegatensis R.T.Baker, E. regnans F.Muell., Acacia dealbata Link and Pomaderris apetala Labill., in varying combinations to provide a range of evenness levels with each of the four species as target dominant. Despite some differences between sown composition and realised composition 1 year after sowing, a substantial range of community evenness and local neighbourhood densities and compositions existed in the experiment. Thus, this site provides a unique opportunity to determine the influence of local neighbourhood composition on a range of ecological processes.
Publication titleAustralian Journal of Botany
Department/SchoolSchool of Natural Sciences
Place of publication150 Oxford St, Po Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia, Victoria, 3066
Rights statementJournal compilation copyright CSIRO 2020