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The effects of dwarf mistletoe, witches' brooms, stand structure, and site characteristics on the crown architecture of lodgepole pine in Oregon

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We investigated the importance of lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium americanum Nutt.) in determining the height to crown top (HCT), height to crown base (HCB), and live crown ratio (LCR) of 2025 lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. murrayana (Grev. & Balf.) Engelm.) growing over a 24-km2 study site in central Oregon. We compared the effects of infection and associated witches' brooms with those of site topography, soil type, shrub cover, stand density, and the abundance of mature ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex P. Laws. & C. Laws). using multiple regression and path analysis. The density of dominant-size P. contorta was consistently the most important factor influencing HCT, HCB, and LCR across the study site. In dense stands, trees tended to have elevated crown bases due to self-pruning and, hence, lower values of LCR. Dwarf mistletoe and related witches' brooms uniquely explained 6.9% of the variance in LCR, which was close to that of dominant P. contorta (7.1%) and more than that of soil type (3.0%), but explained only 2.6% of the variance in HCB, which was less than that of dominant P. contorta (6.5%) and soil type (4.6%). Regression models suggest that heavily infected trees should be 18% shorter and have crown bases 37% lower than uninfected trees, while moderately infected trees should have an LCR over 20% larger than that of uninfected and heavily infected trees. We also found that the largest 25 heavily infected trees sampled were approximately 19% shorter and 11–13% smaller in diameter than the largest 25 uninfected trees. The results suggest that dwarf mistletoe can be an important factor in determining the crown dimensions of P. contorta but that these effects may be interpreted only in the context of site characteristics and stand structure.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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