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Temporal aspects of Quercus rubra decline and relationship to climate in the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas

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Extreme climate events are frequently important factors associated with episodes of forest decline. A recent oak decline event and concurrent outbreak of a native wood-boring beetle, the red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman)), occurred throughout Arkansas Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. To investigate the role of drought and stand maturity on northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) decline, we analyzed tree-ring growth patterns and their relationships to climate from 815 live and 161 recently dead Q. rubra. While younger Q. rubra exhibited faster growth rates and stronger climate relationships than older Q. rubra, some individuals within all stands that originated >60 years ago were susceptible to growth decline or mortality. A significant growth interaction occurred among the three age classes identified where currently healthy Q. rubra were initially growing at slower decadal rates than currently declining or recently dead Q. rubra and later transitioned to higher growth rates than the others. These differences appear to be related to carbon allocation patterns towards rapid aboveground and (or) belowground growth early in development that led to later decline and (or) mortality. Decline in growth and weakening tree growth Рclimate relationships appeared to be initiated by an unusually severe and sustained drought in the early 1950s.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Entomology, University of Arkansas, 319 AGRI, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA. 2: Department of Geosciences, University of Arkansas, 113 Ozark Hall, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA.

Publication date: April 8, 2011

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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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