Growth and the limitations to it are of general interest to forest ecologists and of particular concern to foresters who grow trees as a crop. All tree species influence the nutrient content and other aspects of the soils in which they grow. Whether this results in an overall advantage or disadvantage to themselves, other plants, animals and the soil often depends upon local conditions and forestry practice. This chapter investigates how growth is measured, how it accumulates as biomass and the distinction between how much a tree can grow each year versus how much biomass the whole forest ecosystem can accumulate. The second part deals with nutrient flows and the problems of gains, losses and limitations. Much of what we know about temperate hardwood forests stems from the work carried out at Hubbard Brook (see Box 8.1).
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