Predicting the formation of a new upper canopy strata after colonization of native shrublands by pines

Efrat Sheffer*, Jaime Kigel, Charles D. Canham, Avi Perevolotsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Human alterations of landscapes often lead to colonization of ecosystems by new species, which may alter ecosystem structure and function. Understanding canopy changes is important for management of gradually changing ecosystems. Here, we develop a model that both explains and predicts the rate at which colonizing native Pinus halepensis form an upper forest canopy in native shrublands. We surveyed allometric properties of 602 pine trees, distributed throughout environmental gradients in the Mediterranean region of Israel, where native oak scrublands are being invaded by pines and converting to forests. We developed maximum likelihood models for growth and height of trees in different habitats. Growth fit a log-normal model as a function of height and height fit a power function in relation to age. Precipitation had the strongest impact on both height and shoot growth. The differences in height and growth among trees growing in different soil types and grazing regimes were relatively small, but statistically significant, and could be attributed to direct inhibition or indirect facilitation. In general, pines form an overstory in almost all colonized shrublands, converting them to forests, but the rate of canopy development varies across environmental gradients.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)841-850
Number of pages10
JournalForest Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Society of American Foresters.


  • Canopy structure
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Mediterranean
  • Pinus halepensis
  • Shoot growth


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