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Branch Thinning and the Large-Scale, Self-Similar Structure of Trees
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics. Umea Univ, Dept Math & Math Stat, SE-90187 Umeå, Sweden. (MAM)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6140-180X
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics. Umea Univ, Dept Math & Math Stat, SE-90187 Umea, Sweden. (MAM)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5328-9560
Univ New South Wales, Evolut & Ecol Res Ctr, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.;Univ New South Wales, Sch Biol Earth & Environm Sci, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.;Macquarie Univ, Dept Biol Sci, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia..
Macquarie Univ, Dept Biol Sci, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia..ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7690-4530
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2018 (English)In: American Naturalist, ISSN 0003-0147, E-ISSN 1537-5323, Vol. 192, no 1, p. E37-E47Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Branch formation in trees has an inherent tendency toward exponential growth, but exponential growth in the number of branches cannot continue indefinitely. It has been suggested that trees balance this tendency toward expansion by also losing branches grown in previous growth cycles. Here, we present a model for branch formation and branch loss during ontogeny that builds on the phenomenological assumption of a branch carrying capacity. The model allows us to derive approximate analytical expressions for the number of tips on a branch, the distribution of growth modules within a branch, and the rate and size distribution of tree wood litter produced. Although limited availability of data makes empirical corroboration challenging, we show that our model can fit field observations of red maple (Acer rubrum) and note that the age distribution of discarded branches predicted by our model is qualitatively similar to an empirically observed distribution of dead and abscised branches of balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera). By showing how a simple phenomenological assumptionthat the number of branches a tree can maintain is limitedleads directly to predictions on branching structure and the rate and size distribution of branch loss, these results potentially enable more explicit modeling of woody tissues in ecosystems worldwide, with implications for the buildup of flammable fuel, nutrient cycling, and understanding of plant growth.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
UNIV CHICAGO PRESS , 2018. Vol. 192, no 1, p. E37-E47
Keywords [en]
branching structure, self-similarity, tree architecture, wood litter
National Category
Mathematics
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-40104DOI: 10.1086/697429ISI: 000435128300004PubMedID: 29897799Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85045151799OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-40104DiVA, id: diva2:1228543
Available from: 2018-06-28 Created: 2018-06-28 Last updated: 2018-11-05Bibliographically approved

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Hellström, LarsCarlsson, Linus

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