The relationship between stem-form, stand-closure and site -conditions : the influence of environmental conditions on tree allometry and forest structure in west-central Alberta
Jaques, Kathleen E.
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Changes in the configuration of a tree stern result insignificant differences in its total volume and in the proportion of that volume that is merchantable timber. Tree allometry, as represented by stem-fo~, is the result of the vertical force of gravity and the horizontal force of wind. The effect of wind force is demonstrated in the relationship between stem-form, standclosure and site-conditions. An increase in wind force on the individual tree due to a decrease in stand density should produce a more tapered tree. The density of the stand is determined by the conditions that the trees are growing under. The ability of the tree to respond to increased wind force may also be a function of these conditions . This stem-form/stand-closure/site-conditions relationship was examined using a pre-existing database from westcentral Alberta. This database consisted of environmental, vegetation, soils and timber data covering a wide range of sites. There were 653 sample trees with 82 variables that formed the basis of the analysis. There were eight tree species consisting of Pinus contorta, Picea mariana, Picea engelmannii x glauca, Abies lasiocarpa, Larix laricina, Populus tremuloides, Betula papyrifera and Populus balsamifera plus a comprehensive all-species data set. As the actual conformation of the stern is very individual, stem-fo~was represented by the diameter at breast height to total height r~tio. The four stand-closure variables, crown closure, total basal area, total volume and total number of stems were reduced to total basal area and total number of stems utilizing a bivariate correlation matrix by species. Site-conditions were subdivided into macro, meso and micro variables and reduced in number 3 using cross-tabulations, bivariate correlation and principal components analysis as screening tools. The stem-fo~/stand-closure relationship was examined using bivariate correlation coefficients for stem-fo~ with total number of stems and stem-fo~ with total basal area. The stem-fo~/site-conditions and the stand-closure/site- conditions relationships were examined using multiple correlation coefficients. The stem-form/stand-closure/site-conditions relationship was examined using multiple correlation coefficients in separate analyses for both total number of stems and total basal area. An increase in stand-closure produced a decrease in stem-form for both total number of stems and total basal area for most species. There was a significant relationship between stem-form and site-conditions and between stand-closure and site-conditions for both total number of stems and total basal area for most species. There was a significant relationship between the stemform and site-conditions, including the stand-closure, for most species; total number of stems was involved independently of the site-conditions in the prediction of stem-form and total basal area was not. Larix laricina and Betula papyrifera were the exceptions to the trends observed with most species. The influence of both stand-closure (total number of stems in particular) and site-conditions (elevation in particular) suggest that forest management practices should include these- ecological parameters in determining appropriate restocking levels.