A wealth of recent research has improved our understanding of the structure, growth and yield of mixed-species stands. However, appropriate quantitative concepts for their silvicultural regulation remain scarce. Due to the species-specific stand densities, growing area requirements and potential over-density, the density and mixing regulation in mixed stands is much more intricate than in monospecific stands.
Here, we introduce the species-specific coefficients: density equivalence coefficients (DEC), for density equivalence; and density modification coefficient (DMC), for density modification in mixed species stands. DEC is suitable for the conversion of the stand density and growing area requirement of one species into that of another species. DMC estimates the modification of maximum stand density by tree species mixing using as reference the maximum stand density of one of the species.
First, we introduce the theoretical concept of these coefficients. Second, we derive the mean values of these coefficients based on long-term experiments using different mixtures of European beech. Third, we apply DEC and DMC for flexible regulation of the stand density and mixing proportion. Thus, silvicultural regulation of monospecific stands and mixed-species stands forms a continuum, where monospecific stands represent an extreme case of mixed-species stands.
Lastly, we discuss the advantages and limitations of these concepts. Future directions comprise the inclusion of additional species, their integration in guidelines and simulation models, and their establishment for the quantitative regulation of experimental plots and the practical implementation in forest stands.