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John W. McCarthy (email), Gordon Weetman

Age and size structure of gap-dynamic, old-growth boreal forest stands in Newfoundland

McCarthy J.W., Weetman G. (2006). Age and size structure of gap-dynamic, old-growth boreal forest stands in Newfoundland. Silva Fennica vol. 40 no. 2 article id 339. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.339

Abstract

The age and size structure of trees in old Abies-Picea-Betula forests on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula were examined. It was hypothesized that the size and age structure of both the tree and regeneration “strata” of these stands display the complex structural heterogeneity characteristic of classic, self-regenerating, uneven-aged old-growth stands, and that the development and dynamics of such structures occur over long periods of time. With all tree species combined, dbh (diameter at breast height) and height distributions exhibited a strong reverse-J character, with well-defined, semi-logarithmic rotated sigmoid height and size frequencies. Seedling height and basal diameter frequency distributions were reverse-J in character. Live tree ages for all species, except white birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh), ranged from 25 to 269 years, and were characterized by all-age frequency distributions. Tree age and size were poorly correlated. On average, balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) required 62 years to reach breast height (1.3 m), with black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) and white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) requiring 40 and 48 years, respectively. Total age of dead standing trees ranged from 45 to 232 years. Reverse-J age frequencies characterized the seedling bank, with balsam fir seedlings present in nearly all age classes up to 110, 120 and 85 years in three sample stands. Seedling size (height and basal diameter)-age relationships were characteristic of decades-long suppression. The combination of tree and seedling bank size and age structure provide strong evidence of quasi-equilibrium, small-scale, gap dynamic old-growth boreal forest stands.

Keywords
boreal forests; old-growth forests; gap dynamics; age and size structure; rotated sigmoid; Newfoundland

Author Info
  • McCarthy, University of British Columbia, Forest Sciences Department, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 1Z4 ORCID ID:E-mail jmccarthy@jesuits.ca (email)
  • Weetman, University of British Columbia, Forest Sciences Department, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 1Z4 ORCID ID:E-mail gw@n.ca

Received 30 June 2005 Accepted 23 March 2006 Published 31 December 2006

Available at https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.339 | Download PDF

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