Influence of Vertical Foliage Structure on the Distribution of Stem Cross-Sectional Area Increment in Western Hemlock and Balsam Fir
A set of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla Raf. [Sarg.]) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea [L.] Mill.) from western Washington, USA and western Newfoundland, Canada, respectively, were destructively sampled to examine relationships between vertical foliage structure and distribution of stem cross-sectional area increment. A series of stem growth distribution models describing the relationship between amount of foliage area above a given height and stem cross-sectional area increment at that height was derived from the pipe model theory. These models were derived with increasing generality so that two commonly held assumptions could be explicitly tested: (1) linear increase in cross-sectional area increment with increasing foliage area; and (2) constant cross-sectional area increment below base of the live crown. Overall, the models performed very well, accounting for over 80% of the observed variation in cross-sectional area increment for both species. The results show that, while cross-sectional area increment increases with increasing current foliage, the increase is not proportional (i.e., linear). Furthermore, the rate of cross-sectional area increment below base of the live crown was found to increase in the smaller balsam fir trees and decrease in the larger western hemlock trees. These results suggest that cross-sectional area increment per unit foliage below the live crown may change as trees grow. For. Sci. 46(1):86-94.