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Allometric Scaling of Large Branch Volume in Hardwood Trees in Michigan, USA: Implications for Aboveground Forest Carbon Stock Inventories

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Allometric scaling of large branch volume (branches to a ≥9-cm top diameter outside of bark) was examined using data from hundreds of hardwood trees of 11 hardwood tree species across a range of sites in Michigan. The amount of large branch volume in hardwoods generally increased with tree size with most of it in first-order branches (off of the main stem), but there were trees as small as 35 cm that had third-order large branches in their crowns. To explore how branch volumes scaled with bole volume, large branch volume expansion factors (VEFs) were calculated and correlated with several stem, branch, and crown metrics. Tree dbh and height, respectively, were weakly correlated (r 2 = 0.15) and uncorrelated with VEFs, but crown ratio and the diameter of the largest branch in the tree explained almost 50% of variation in VEFs across a range of tree species, sizes, and site conditions. Combining stem, crown, and branch measurements allowed for as much as 64% of variation in branch to bole volume scaling to be explained. For 9 of 11 species studied, species-specific models improved model fits compared with those for a species-composite model. Understanding branch to bole volume relationships could improve forest carbon inventories by reducing error in whole-tree volume estimation and by clarifying the amount of merchantable volumes in branches, and correlates of large branch VEFs might even serve as indicators of whole-tree wood density.

Keywords: allometric relationships; biomass expansion factors; branch volumes; forest carbon; hardwoods

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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.

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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