Species and soil effects on overyielding of tree species mixtures in the Netherlands

Huicui Lu*, Sonia Condés, Miren del Río, Venceslas Goudiaby, Jan den Ouden, Godefridus M.J. Mohren, Mart Jan Schelhaas, Rein de Waal, Frank J. Sterck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


A growing number of studies provides evidence that mixed-species forests often have higher stand productivity than monospecific forests, which is referred to as overyielding. In this study, we explored how the combination of species and soil conditions affect overyielding in terms of periodic annual volume increment (PAIV) in Dutch forests. We studied Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco), common beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.), and silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) growing in four two species combinations (Douglas-fir–common beech, Scots pine–pedunculate oak, pedunculate oak–common beech, and pedunculate oak–silver birch) from 398 long-term permanent field plots all over the Netherlands. We found that the Douglas-fir–common beech and Scots pine–pedunculate oak mixtures always showed overyielding. This overyielding was largely attributed to the Douglas-fir in the former mixture and to the pedunculate oak in the latter mixture, respectively. In both cases, overyielding was stronger at poor soils than at rich soils. The pedunculate oak–common beech mixtures overyielded at poor soils and underyielded at rich soils, which was attributed to the response of the common beech. Overyielding was not observed for the pedunculate oak–silver birch mixtures, irrespective of soil conditions. The results do not support our hypothesis since overyielding was not always driven by fast-growing light-demanding species. Overyielding was stronger for evergreen–deciduous species combinations, suggesting that differences in leaf phenology are a major driver of overyielding. Secondly, our results imply that overyielding is much stronger at poor soils than at rich soils, which is in line with the prediction of the stress-gradient hypothesis. We conclude that the growth of one species benefits from the admixture species, particularly in evergreen–deciduous species mixtures and that soils affect the extent of overyielding as studied in the Netherlands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-118
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Niche complementarity
  • Productivity
  • Soil
  • Species mixing effect
  • Volume growth


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