We studied how the dominant factor affecting stem volume growth changes during stand development in a monoclonal stand of Cryptomeria japonica D. Don. Stem analysis was used to compare growth history of trees in an unthinned plot (closed canopy) and a thinned plot (open canopy). In the unthinned plot, the dominant factor affecting stem volume growth was basal area (BA) before canopy closure, whereas neighborhood competition index (CI) was the dominant factor after canopy closure. In contrast, the dominant factor affecting stem volume in the thinned plot was BA throughout stand development. Spearman's rank correlation coefficient between BA and CI continued to increase after canopy closure and size rank among individuals became increasingly fixed. Our results indicated that stem volume growth shifts from size-dependent to competition-dependent growth at canopy closure. The apparent correlation between tree size and growth rate observed in many previous studies may be the result of competition-mediated positive feedback between size and growth.
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