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Modeling the Effect of Winter Climate on High-Elevation Red Spruce Shoot Water Contents

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During the winter of 1989-90, meteorological towers were erected at two sites (880 and 1010 m elevation) within the spruce-fir zone on Mt. Moosilauke, New Hampshire. Hourly means of temperature, wind velocity, relative humidity, and solar radiation were collected and stored on data loggers. Previous-year shoots were collected from four spruce trees at each site on a weekly basis, and their relative water contents (RWC) were determined. Measured meteorological parameters were used to simulate changes in the RWC of previous-year spruce shoots through the winter. Our model suggests that shoot water is replenished throughout the winter, presumably from water stored in older woody structures or by root uptake. Recharge was defined to be directly dependent on shoot water saturation deficit (WSD = 100% - RWC), with a temperature cutoff of -4°C. The predicted output of the model generally followed measured RWC. According to our model, periods of high transpiration were associated with low relative humidities, sometimes accompanied by high temperatures and high levels of radiation. Our results suggest that winter water relations in spruce are governed by a balance between transpirational losses, which are primarily dependent upon meteorological conditions, and the rate of recharge, which is dependent on shoot water potential, temperature and perhaps soil water availability. For. Sci. 37(6):1567-1580.

Keywords: Picea rubens; Relative water content; subalpine spruce-fir; winter water relations

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, 324 Murdough Center, Hanover, NH 03755

Publication date: December 1, 1991

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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.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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