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Effects of seed source origin on bark thickness of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) growing in southwestern Germany

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Provenance-specific variation in bark thickness in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) is important for accurate volume calculations and might carry ecological implications as well. To investigate variation, diameter at breast height (dbh) and double bark thickness (dbt) were measured in 10 experiments in southwestern Germany (16 American and six German seed sources), which were approximately 50 years old and ranged in productivity. Provenance-specific mixed models for dbt versus dbh varied considerably with respect to intercept and slope. Likewise, analysis of covariance on bark ratio (range = 8.0% to 13.2%) with dbh as the linear predictor revealed significant differences (p < 0.05 to p < 0.0001) in 70% of the comparisons. Influence of seed origin on bark ratio was analyzed for our 16 American sources plus six provenances reported from New Zealand tests. In linear regressions, single geographic position variables explained only a small proportion of the variation in bark ratio (range of r 2 = 0.01–0.33), and the same was true for individual climate variables. In contrast, physiographic regions significantly (p = 0.0013) explained considerable variation (r 2 = 0.66). Likewise, a combination of three climate variables (temperature, frost days, precipitation) proved significant (p < 0.0001; r 2 = 0.87). As bark ratio was inversely related to precipitation at the seed origin, it is inferred that historic fire regimes may have played a selective role in the process by which Douglas-fir allocates dry matter between bark and wood.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg, Postfach 708, D-79007 Freiburg, Germany. 2: University of Applied Forest Sciences, Schadenweiler Hof, D-72108 Rottenburg/N, Germany. 3: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. 4: University of Maine, 229 Nutting Hall, Orono, ME 04469, USA.

Publication date: 2012-02-11

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