Current issue: 53(4)
Process-based tree growth models are recognized to be flexible tools which are valuable for investigating tree growth in relation to changing environment or silvicultural treatments. In the context of forestry, we address two key modelling problems: allocation of growth which determines total wood production, and distribution of wood along the stem which determines stem form and wood quality. Growth allocation and distribution are the outcome of carbon translocation, which may be described by the Munch theory. We propose a simpler gradient process to describe the carbon distribution in the phloem of conifers. This model is a reformulation of a carbon diffusion-like process proposed by Thornley in 1972. By taking into account the continuity of the cambium along the stem, we obtain a one-dimensional reaction-diffusion model which describes both growth allocation between foliage, stem and roots, and growth distribution along the stem. Distribution of wood along the stem is then regarded as an allocation process at a smaller scale. A preliminary sensitivity analysis is presented. The model predicts a strong relationship between morphology and foliage-root allocation. It also suggests how empirical data, such as stem analysis, could be used to calibrate and validate allocation rules in process-based growth models.