Mixed-species plantations of Eucalyptus with a nitrogen (N2) fixing species have the potential to increase productivity while maintaining soil fertility, compared to Eucalyptus monocultures. However, it is difficult to predict combinations of species and sites that will lead to these benefits. We review the processes and interactions occurring in mixed plantations, and the influence of species or site attributes, to aid the selection of successful combinations of species and sites. Successful mixtures, where productivity is increased over that of monocultures, have often developed stratified canopies, such that the less shade-tolerant species overtops the more shade-tolerant species. Successful mixtures also have significantly higher rates of N and P cycling than Eucalyptus monocultures. It is therefore important to select N2-fixing species with readily decomposable litter and high rates of nutrient cycling, as well as high rates of N2-fixation. While the dynamics of N2-fixation in tree stands are not well understood, it appears as though eucalypts can benefit from fixed N as early as the first or second year following plantation establishment. A meta-analysis of 18 published studies revealed several trials in which mixtures were significantly (P<0.001) more productive than monocultures, and no instances in which mixtures were less productive than monocultures. Regression analyses of such data were more informative than indices of relative yield, and were more informative in trials that contrasted four or more different species compositions. Thus replacement series examining compositions of 100:0, 67:33, 33:67, and 0:100 were more informative than minimalist 100:0, 50:50 and 0:100 series.
Post-print of: Forrester, DI, Bauhus, J, Cowie, AL & Vanclay, JK 2006, 'Mixed-species plantation of Eucalyptus with nitrogen fixing trees: a review', Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 233, no. 2-3, pp. 211-230.
Forest Ecology and Management journal home page available at http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foreco
Publisher's version of article available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2006.05.012