iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


The patterns of nearest neighbor trees in a temperate forest

Xiongwen Chen   , Kimberly A Bowman

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 15, Issue 4, Pages 315-321 (2022)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor4035-015
Published: Aug 23, 2022 - Copyright © 2022 SISEF

Research Articles

The nearest neighbor trees (NNTs) are essential for reflecting forest structure and spatial heterogeneity in a forest stand. It is not clear whether different tree species have varied patterns of NNTs in a small area due to biological interactions, whether big trees affect the nearest neighbors for diversity and recruitments, or whether a universal linear relationship between the distance of NNTs and their average DBH exists. In this study, the information of NNTs at two plots (each 30 × 100 m) in a temperate mixed broadleaved forest in Southern USA was collected by field survey. Our results indicated that approximately 80% of NNTs were within a distance of 1.5-4.0 m. Tulip poplar, oaks, and hickory trees did not have the same species as NNTs or were very limited. Carolina buckthorn had itself as an NNT but with fewer other species. Sugar maple could serve as the NNT for oaks, hickory and others. The relationships between the distance of an NNT and its cumulative percentage were different among varied species or groups. Overall, for trees and their NNTs, there existed complicated relationships between their sizes (e.g., height and DBH). Big trees might affect NNTs in diversity and recruitment. The suggested linear relationship between tree size and distance was not observed. The results could be helpful to manage forest structure (tree species and NNT) and provide evidence to improve the scaling theory on NNTs.


Forest Structure, Heterogeneity, Scaling, Species Interaction, Tree Size

Authors’ address

Xiongwen Chen 0000-0002-3373-1737
Kimberly A Bowman 0000-0002-7082-8458
Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences, Alabama A & M University, Normal, AL 35762 (USA)

Corresponding author

Xiongwen Chen


Chen X, Bowman KA (2022). The patterns of nearest neighbor trees in a temperate forest. iForest 15: 315-321. - doi: 10.3832/ifor4035-015

Academic Editor

Maurizio Marchi

Paper history

Received: Dec 09, 2021
Accepted: Jun 20, 2022

First online: Aug 23, 2022
Publication Date: Aug 31, 2022
Publication Time: 2.13 months

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