- This study examines the long-term role of interference on stand development of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco) and red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) planted mixtures in the Central Cascades of Oregon, USA. The two species are common associates in naturally regenerated and planted conifer stands in the Pacific Northwest. Due to red alder's rapid height growth, Douglas-fir is often impeded when in the presence of red alder. However, because of red alder's ability to fix nitrogen and increase soil nutrient cycling rates Douglas-fir development can potentially be enhanced when in red alder presence.
The relationship between current stand structure, tree mortality, tree size and varying mixtures of species proportions were examined in this study. Treatments included four proportions of red alder either planted simultaneously with the Douglas-fir or delayed 5-years after initial Douglas-fir planting. The objectives of this study were to determine if species mixtures were capable of a greater yield when compared to monocultures and then to determine which form of interference was taking place within and between species.
A long-term replacement series study was established in 1986 to understand the role of interference on two commercially valuable species. Six treatments of each planting time were created with the following proportions (Douglas-fir/red alder, respectively): 1.0/0.0, 0.9/0.1, 0.7/0.3, 0.5/0.5, 0.25/0.75, 0.0/1.0. Each treatment was replicated three times in a randomized complete-block design. Measurement of diameter at breast height (cm) of each stem, total height (m), and number of live/dead stems were determined in 1988-1991, 1993, 1995, 1998 and 2007.
Yields of both the 0.5/0.5 simultaneous and delayed treatment mixtures were notably higher than the monocultures. Per-tree basal area, height, and survival decreased for both the Douglas-fir and red alder as the relative density (proportion) of red alder increased in the simultaneously planted mixtures. In the delayed mixtures, Douglas-fir per-tree basal area, height, and survival increased as red alder density increased. Red alder development indicated only minor decreases in survival as its density increased in the delayed treatment mixtures.
Competition was the dominant mechanism of stand development for all treatments. In the simultaneously planted treatments the Douglas-fir was driven most by interspecific competition, while red alder development exhibited trends for intraspecific competition. In the delayed planted treatments both species experienced intraspecific competition, although this effect was minor for red alder. These results support the competitive effects of red alder on Douglas-fir and itself when seedlings are established at the same time. The delayed treatments however, showed the importance of density on individual tree development over time.