INFLUENCE OF NEIGHBORS ON TREE FORM: EFFECTS OF LATERAL SHADE AND PREVENTION OF SWAY ON THE ALLOMETRY OF LIQUIDAMBAR STYRACIFLUA (SWEET GUM)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum) saplings were open grown (control), guy-wired to prevent wind-induced sway (constrained), or guy-wired within open-topped shade cloth cylinders to simulate shading by neighboring trees (shaded). Mechanical stability was assessed after 2 years of growth by field measurement of whole-tree flexibility and with the critical buckling height predictions of five allometrical models. Data from this experiment are supplemented with measurements of sweet gum trees growing in a 9-year-old pine plantation; individuals crowded but not overtopped by pines are compared with similar-aged trees growing in openings within the plantation.
Changes in aboveground architecture were stimulated by both prevention of sway and lateral shade but the effect of the latter was most pronounced; shaded saplings approached or exceeded their calculated critical height and buckled under their own weight when the shade cloth cylinders were removed. Rates of aboveground biomass acquisition, total leaf area, wood density, and wood elastic moduli did not differ among the three treatments; changes in stem allometry accounted for most of the observed differences in tree stability. Sweet gum trees growing in a pine plantation responded similarly to neighbors; crowded trees had larger height: diameter ratios and more closely approached their calculated critical heights than did trees growing in the open. Sweet gum saplings growing in dense stands of similar-sized plants may surmount their neighbors by allocating relatively more wood to height growth than to girth increment.