Spatial and temporal variability in forest growth in the Olympic Mountains, Washington: sensitivity to climatic variability

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We compared annual basal area increment (BAI) at different spatial scales among all size classes and species at diverse locations in the wet western and dry northeastern Olympic Mountains. Weak growth correlations at small spatial scales (average R = 0.084–0.406) suggest that trees are responding to local growth conditions. However, significant positive growth correlations between geographically adjacent forest types (R = 0.440–0.852) and between watersheds (R = 0.430) indicate that there is a common overarching growth-limiting factor (e.g., climate) that affects tree growth over large areas. The Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carrière) forest type is the most sensitive to environmental change with the highest mean sensitivity (0.345), the highest potential for annual growth change (mean BAI = 0.0047 m2), and the highest growth variability (coefficient of variation = 0.498). In addition, this forest type is most likely to exhibit extreme positive growth responses (4.2% of years have BAI values 2 standard deviations above the mean). Low-elevation coniferous forests are relatively sensitive to changes in growth-limiting factors (in contrast to the traditional view) and may play an important role in storing carbon in a warmer climate.

Les auteurs ont comparé l'accroissement annuel en surface terrière à différentes échelles spatiales pour toutes les classes de dimension et toutes les espèces à divers endroits dans les parties ouest, une région humide, et nord-est, une région sèche, des Montagnes Olympic. De faibles corrélations de croissance à de grandes échelles spatiales (R moyen de 0,084 à 0,406) indiquent que les arbres réagissent à des conditions locales de croissance. Cependant, des corrélations de croissance positives et significatives entre des types de forêts géographiquement adjacentes (R = 0,440–0,852) et entre des bassins versants (R = 0,430) indiquent qu'un facteur prédominant commun limite la croissance (p. ex. le climat) des arbres sur de grandes superficies. Le type de forêt dominé par l'épinette de Sitka (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carrière) est le plus sensible aux changements environnementaux avec la sensibilité moyenne la plus élevée (0,345), le plus grand potentiel de modification de la croissance annuelle (accroissement moyen en surface terrière de 0,0047 m2) et la plus grande variabilité de la croissance (coefficient de variation de 0,498). De plus, ce type de forêt est le plus sujet à montrer des réactions extrêmes de croissance positive (4,2 % des années montrent des accroissements en surface terrière dépassant la moyenne de deux écart-types). Les forêts de conifères à faible altitude sont relativement sensibles aux modifications des facteurs qui limitent la croissance (contrairement au point de vue traditionnel) et peuvent jouer un rôle important pour entreposer le carbone sous un climat plus chaud.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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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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