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Radial Gradients in the Specific Gravity of Wood in Some Tropical and Temperate Trees

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Pith to bark wood samples from 20 Costa Rican tropical wet forest and 17 United States temperate forest tree species showed wide variability in specific gravity trends among species. Specific gravity increased significantly from pith to bark in 16 of the tropical tree species. The increases were most dramatic (90-270%) in species that are typically colonizers of clearings and disturbed sites; species of later stages of succession showed moderate increases (20-70%) or, in some instances, no change in specific gravity from pith outward. Statistically significant linear pith to bark trends were found in only four temperate species--two of these increased specific gravity with diameter and two decreased. None of the temperate species showed a change greater than 40%, and no clear relationship between specific gravity pattern and shade tolerance was evident. In tropical wet forests, increase in wood specific gravity with diameter may be an adaptation by shade intolerant species to the highly competitive conditions on disturbed sites. For. Sci. 35(1):197-210.
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Keywords: Costa Rica; Within-tree variation; pioneer species; specific gravity; succession; tropical wet forest

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Botany, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803

Publication date: 1989-03-01

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  • 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
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