Current issue: 55(5)
Under compilation: 56(1)
Ageing and competition reduce trees’ ability to capture resources, which predisposes them to death. In this study, the effect of senescence on the survival probability of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) was analysed by fitting alternative survival probability models. Different model formulations were compared in the dataset, which comprised managed and unmanaged plots in long-term forest experiments in Finland and Norway, as well as old-growth stands in Finland. Stand total age ranged from 19 to 290 years. Two models were formulated without an age variable, such that the negative coefficient for the squared stem diameter described a decreasing survival probability for the largest trees. One of the models included stand age as a separate independent variable, and three models included an interaction term between stem diameter and stand age. According to the model including stand age and its interaction with stem diameter, the survival probability curves could intersect each other in stands with a similar structure but a different mean age. Models that did not include stand age underestimated the survival rate of the largest trees in the managed stands and overestimated their survival rate in the old-growth stands. Models that included stand age produced more plausible predictions, especially for the largest trees. The results supported the hypothesis that the stand age and senescence of trees decreases the survival probability of trees, and that the ageing effect improves survival probability models for Norway spruce.
New mortality models were developed for the purpose of improving long-term growth and yield simulations in Finland, Norway, and Sweden and were based on permanent national forest inventory plots from Sweden and Norway. Mortality was modelled in two steps. The first model predicts the probability of survival, while the second model predicts the proportion of basal area in surviving trees for plots where mortality has occurred. In both models, the logistic function was used. The models incorporate the variation in prediction period length and in plot size. Validation of both models indicated unbiased mortality rates with respect to various stand characteristics such as stand density, average tree diameter, stand age, and the proportion of different tree species, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), and broadleaves. When testing against an independent dataset of unmanaged spruce-dominated stands in Finland, the models provided unbiased prediction with respect to stand age.
Based on data from long-term experimental fields with Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.), we developed new stem taper and bark functions for Norway. Data was collected from 477 trees in stands across Norway. Three candidate functions which have shown good performance in previous studies (Kozak 02, Kozak 97 and Bi) were fitted to the data as fixed-effects models. The function with the smallest Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) was then chosen for additional analyses, fitting 1) site index-dependent and 2) age-dependent versions of the model, and 3) fitting a mixed-effects model with tree-specific random parameters. Kozak 97 was found to be the function with the smallest AIC, but all three tested taper functions resulted in fairly similar predictions of stem taper. The site index-dependent function reduced AIC and residual standard error and showed that the effect of site index on stem taper is different in small and large trees. The predictions of the age-independent and age-dependent models were very close to each other. Adding tree-specific random parameters to the model clearly reduced AIC and residual variation. However, the results suggest that the mixed-effects model should be used only when it is possible to calibrate it for each tree, otherwise the fixed-effects Kozak 97 model should be used. A model for double bark thickness was also fitted as fixed-effects Kozak 97 model. The model behaved logically, predicting larger relative but smaller absolute bark thickness for small trees.
The ongoing climate change may have a distinct effect on Norway spruce growth, one of the most important tree species in European forest management. Therefore, the understanding and assessment of climate-growth relationship can help to reveal relevant patterns in temporal variability that may result in lower tree vitality and decline. The main objective of our study was to evaluate the long-term climate-growth variability of Norway spruce in south-eastern Norway, at the northern edge of the temperate zone. We sampled in total 270 dominant and co-dominant trees from 18 plots in south-eastern Norway. We analysed stem cores and evaluated crown condition parameters to assess the retrospective tree growth and vitality. Despite considerable differences in the crown parameters, high similarity among tree-ring width (TRW) series allowed compiling the regional tree-ring width chronology. Correlations between TRW and climate parameters showed temporal instability in their relationship during the period 1915–2012. While we did not detect any significant relationships between TRW and climate parameters in the first half of the study period (1915–1963), a significant correlation between TRW and spring precipitation was observed for the period 1964–2012. This shift appeared concurrent with temperatures reaching above-average values compared to the average of the climate normal period 1961–1990.