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Links between biomass and tree demography in a northern hardwood forest: a decade of stability and change in Hubbard Brook Valley, New Hampshire

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We resurveyed a network of sampling plots (n = 371) 10 years after its establishment in Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (New Hampshire, USA) to quantify recent trends in tree biomass and demography. We found no significant change in live-tree biomass during the decade. Total biomass was 246 Mg·ha–1 (95%CI = 235–258) in 1995–1996 and 245 Mg·ha–1 (95%CI = 234–256) in 2005–2006. Annual mortality during the period for trees ≥ 10 cm diameter at breast height (1.37 m) averaged 9.7 trees·ha–1·year–1 (95% CI of annual mortality rate = 1.36%–1.84%·year–1). Tree recruitment into the census pool was 8.4 trees⋅ha–1·year–1 (95% CI = 5.8–10.6). Although overall forest biomass remained constant, there were marked shifts in the relative dominance of the canopy species. For example, the live biomass of Betula alleghaniensis Britton declined by 7%, whereas the live biomass of Picea rubens Sarg. increased by 6% and that of Acer saccharum Marshall increased by 4%. There was no instance of recruitment significantly exceeding mortality for the major species. Relative growth rates ranged from 1.03%·year–1 for Betula papyrifera Marshall to 1.99%·year–1 for Abies balsamea (L.) Mill. Our results confirmed earlier reports that the forest at Hubbard Brook is no longer aggrading. Current live-tree biomass is lower than expected. Although effects of novel disturbances documented on a regional level have not led to directional changes in tree demography at Hubbard Brook, we suggest that these novel stressors are depressing the biomass potential of the forest.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California at Berkeley, 137 Mulford Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-3114, USA. 2: Department of Natural Resources, Fernow Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. 3: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Sage Hall 205 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06512, USA. 4: 8287 SW Wilderland Court, Portland, OR 97224, USA.

Publication date: July 5, 2011

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