iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Long-term effects of thinning and mixing on stand spatial structure: a case study of Chinese fir plantations

Yuanfa Li (1-2), Junmo Xu (1), Hongxiang Wang (1), You Nong (3), Guo Sun (1), Sufang Yu (1), Liangning Liao (1), Shaoming Ye (1)   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 14, Issue 2, Pages 113-121 (2021)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3489-014
Published: Mar 08, 2021 - Copyright © 2021 SISEF

Research Articles

The regular planting and periodic harvesting of a single tree species are features of plantations, which are associated with a reduction of biodiversity. Such plantations are strongly encouraged to be converted into mixed forests. However, the spatial structure dynamics of plantations during the conversion process are poorly understood. In subtropical regions, thinned forest of Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata [Lamb.] Hook.) and mixed forest of Chinese fir and Michelia macclurei Dandy are considered two ideal modes of plantation management. In this study, we analyzed the spatial structure dynamics of two forest stands and their six main tree populations over a rotation of 27 years, using spatial point analyses. We found that Chinese fir and M. macclurei had a regular distribution pattern (scale, r = 0-1 m) in the early stages of planting (1993), and Chinese fir maintained this pattern after experiencing self-thinning and selective cutting. In addition, non-planted tree species (i.e., natural regeneration of late-seral species, NRLSS) displayed significantly intraspecific clumping, which resulted in the distribution patterns of the forest stands changing from regular to aggregated (r = 0-5.5, 1-20 m), and the species distribution of mixed forest changed from random to clumped (r = 0-20 m). Moreover, during the management period (1993-2018), individuals were significantly differentiated in terms of size, and some small trees in the thinned forest were aggregated together. For the NRLSS, the diameter at breast height was randomly distributed (r = 0-20 m). Furthermore, Chinese fir and M. macclurei were separated at r = 0-1 m in the planting stage, but any pair of the six main populations in the thinned forest and mixed forest were randomly correlated over a rotation. Finally, the nearest neighbor distance of the stands became shorter after conversion, while the values for Chinese fir increased. After 25 years, the mixed plantation and the thinned plantation had a complex spatial structure. They develop towards natural forests and could be used as a template for future plantation management.


Chinese Fir, Distribution Pattern, Mixed Forest, Plantation, Spatial Correlation, Thinning

Authors’ address

Yuanfa Li 0000-0001-9677-0752
Junmo Xu
Hongxiang Wang
Guo Sun
Sufang Yu
Liangning Liao
Shaoming Ye 0000-0003-3052-0616
College of Forestry, Guangxi Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Conservation, Guangxi University, Daxue East Road 100, Xixiangtang district, Nanning, Guangxi, 530004 (China PR)
Yuanfa Li 0000-0001-9677-0752
Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, T6G 2R3 (Canada)
You Nong
Experimental Center of Tropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Pingxiang 532600, Guangxi (China PR)

Corresponding author

Shaoming Ye


Li Y, Xu J, Wang H, Nong Y, Sun G, Yu S, Liao L, Ye S (2021). Long-term effects of thinning and mixing on stand spatial structure: a case study of Chinese fir plantations. iForest 14: 113-121. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3489-014

Academic Editor

Giorgio Vacchiano

Paper history

Received: Apr 29, 2020
Accepted: Jan 06, 2021

First online: Mar 08, 2021
Publication Date: Apr 30, 2021
Publication Time: 2.03 months

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