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Comparing Basal Area Growth Rates in Repeated Inventories: Simpson's Paradox in Forestry

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Recent analyses of radial growth rates in southern commercial forests have shown that current rates are lower than past rates when compared diameter class by diameter class. These results have been interpreted as an indication that the growth rate of the forest is declining. In this paper, growth rates of forest populations in Alabama are studied. Basal area growth (a function of both radius and radial growth squared) by diameter classes is examined for plantation and natural stands. Basal area growth and population distributions for the 1962-1972 and 1972-1982 measurement periods are presented. Also, significance of Simpson's paradox in these analyses is discussed. Basal area growth proves to be consistent with changes that have occurred in tree frequency in diameter classes, i.e., stand structure. In Alabama's natural stands, basal area growth is shown to be relatively constant over the most recent inventories, while it has increased in plantations. Simple comparison of radial growth would be misleading. For. Sci. 35(4): 1029-1039.
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Keywords: Contingency table; diameter distribution; radial growth; sample stratification; unequal probability sampling

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Mathematical Statistician, USDA Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station, Institute for Quantitative Studies, New Orleans, LA 70113

Publication date: 1989-12-01

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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