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Relation of Starch Content to Conifer Mortality and Growth Loss after Defoliation by the Douglas-fir Tussock Moth

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When defoliation is severe and extensive, such as that caused periodically by the Douglas-fir tussock moth, then predictions of tree mortality and growth loss are needed to make management decisions. Starch content of Douglas-fir and white fir twigs provided a good basis for predicting mortality of trees studied in two tussock moth outbreaks, one in British Columbia, Canada, and the other in New Mexico. Trees without detectable starch after defoliation did not recover, but trees with some starch invariably recovered if no additional defoliation occurred. Crown regrowth also was found to be correlated with starch content at time of bud burst. Our knowledge of the physiological mechanisms of starch dynamics in conifers coupled with field observations strongly suggests that starch content generally will be a good indicator of conifer vigor after insect defoliation. Forest Sci. 27:224-232.
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Keywords: Orgyia pseudotsugata; foliage biomass; reserve energy

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis

Publication date: 1981-06-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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