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An Ecological Approach to Modeling Growth of Forest Trees

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An emerging body of ecological research geared toward development of a means of quantifying operational environment of forest plants is discussed with emphasis upon: (1) a workable methodology for measuring environment in the field and determining its influence on forest growth and community dynamics; (2) the application of this methodology to modeling growth of forest trees. Operational environment is defined as a set of variables that are indexes of air and soil temperature, solar radiation, soil water availability, and atmospheric moisture demand. These variables are part of an n-dimensional environmental space, within which the responses of selected species of forest plants to environment are mathematically described. These response surfaces are analogous to the Hutchinsonian niche. Definition of environment and quantification of the response to environment provide the central theory for a forest growth and succession model. Forest Sci. 26:33-50.

Keywords: Conifer growth models; niche; operational environmental coordinates; simulation; succession

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Assistant Professor, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511

Publication date: March 1, 1980

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