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Validation of Spruce Budworm Outbreak History Developed from Aerial Sketch Mapping of Defoliation in New Brunswick

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Aerial sketch mapping (ASM) of annual defoliation provides a means to quantify spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana Clem.) outbreak histories, but accuracy is affected by factors such as navigation and weather conditions. We used ground-based defoliation estimates from 123 permanent sample plots (PSP) in New Brunswick and increment core growth data from a subset of PSPs, to validate ASM estimates of defoliation. From 1985 to 1993, 85% of 332 cases were correctly classified by aerial estimates as nil–light (0–30%) or moderate–severe (31–100%), with the proportion correct varying by measurement year, defoliation severity, and host species. Growth indices generated from 81 visually cross-dated and verified balsam fir (Abies balsamea [L.] Mill.) tree-ring series in 23 PSPs were significantly negatively correlated with aerial-derived cumulative defoliation for 87% of the PSPs, and correlation increased when aerial estimates were combined with ground survey data. We conclude that aerial surveys provide a reasonable estimate of defoliation history to estimate growth reduction.

Keywords: aerial sketch mapping; balsam fir; defoliation; growth reduction; permanent sample plots; tree-ring analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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