Crown width is a functional trait that is commonly used to improve the estimation of above-ground biomass of forests and is often included as a predictor variable in forest growth models. Most of the existing crown width models reflect the relationship between crown width, tree size and competition variables, but do not consider the effect of species mixture. In this study, we developed crown width models for individual-tree of the major tree species growing in Austria. Because these models should be applicable for mixed and pure stands and should also take into account the characteristics of different sites, the relationship between crown width, site variables and species composition was investigated. For that purpose, we used data from a sub-sample of the Austrian National Forest Inventory, which comprises crown width measurements of about 8900 trees from 1508 sample plots. Because of the hierarchical structure of the data set (i.e., trees nested within the plot) which destroys the independencies between observations, linear mixed-effects models were used. The species composition of the stand was included via the species-specific relative proportions of basal area. To describe the interregional variability of crown width, dummy variables were introduced, which account for region-specific differences. Site characteristics were incorporated through the altitude, slope and aspect of the site. For Norway spruce, silver fir, Scots pine, European larch, European beech, oak species and ash/maple species it was possible to develop crown width models, which reflect the effects of site characteristics and species composition of the stand. The crown widths of shade-tolerant species reacted mainly positively to admixture, whereas light-demanding species reacted with decreasing crown widths. Coniferous species were not as strongly affected by mixture as broadleaf species.
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