Self-thinning in four pine species: an evaluation of potential climate impacts

Pau Brunet-Navarro, Frank J. Sterck, Jordi Vayreda, Jordi Martinez-Vilalta, Godefridus M.J. Mohren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016, The Author(s). Key message: Self-thinning lines are species- and climate-specific, and they should be used when assessing the capacity of different forest stands to increase biomass/carbon storage. Context: The capacity of forests to store carbon can help to mitigate the effects of atmospheric CO2 rise and climate change. The self-thinning relationship (average size measure ∼ stand density) has been used to identify the potential capacity of biomass storage at a given density and to evaluate the effect of stand management on stored carbon. Here, a study that shows how the self-thinning line varies with species and climate is presented. Aims: Our main objective is thus testing whether species identity and climate affect the self-thinning line and therefore the potential amount of carbon stored in living biomass. Methods: The Ecological and Forest Inventory of Catalonia was used to calculate the self-thinning lines of four common coniferous species in Catalonia, NE Iberian Peninsula (Pinus halepensis, Pinus nigra, Pinus sylvestris and Pinus uncinata). Quadratic mean diameter at breast height was chosen as the average size measure. The self-thinning lines were used to predict the potential diameter at a given density and study the effect of environmental variability. Results: Species-specific self-thinning lines were obtained. The self-thinning exponent was consistent with the predicted values of −3/2 and −4/3 for mass-based scaling for all species except P. sylvestris. Species identity and climatic variability within species affected self-thinning line parameters. Conclusion: Self-thinning lines are species-specific and are affected by climatic conditions. These relationships can be used to refine predictions of the capacity of different forest stands to increase biomass/carbon storage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1034
JournalAnnals of Forest Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Carbon sequestration
  • Forest management
  • Quadratic mean diameter
  • Self-thinning rule
  • Stand density
  • Stand dynamics


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