A spatially explicit model was developed to study the relationships between the dynamics and spatial structure of forest stands. The objective was to test whether tree spatial structure can be used as an indicator of stand dynamics. The model simulates the growth, mortality and recruitment of trees in a multi-specific and uneven-aged stand. It includes deterministic and stochastic processes so that repeated simulations do not lead to the same stand but provide several possible results for a given dynamic (defined by a set of parameters). Second-order neighbourhood analyses were used to characterize the resulting spatial structures. They showed a high variability for a given set of parameters. Only the main trends in the spatial structure can be interpreted. Sensitivity analyses, concerning the influence of competition on spatial structure, showed that in heterogeneous stands confounding effects can hinder the interpretation of the spatial structure if all the trees are considered. The spatial structure of the canopy trees alone proved easier to interpret as it is directly linked to post recruitment competition. Inference on the dominant modality of competition (one-sided or two-sided) based on the spatial structure proved difficult.
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Vol. 14 • No. 6