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Nondestructive Aging of Postfire Seedlings for Four Conifer Species in Northwestern Montana

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Several methods are commonly used to determine the age of seedlings, and destructive aging methods are often assumed to be the most reliable. Terminal bud-scar counts can be used as a nondestructive alternative for aging seedlings, although clear criteria for which this method is appropriate are not well-known. This article evaluates the use of terminal bud-scar counts for aging seedlings of four conifer species in Glacier National Park, Montana. The results of our study suggest that terminal bud scars are reliable indicators of annual vertical growth, but that the accuracy of the method is limited to varying degrees by the age and height of seedlings. Method accuracy and error are more strongly related to seedling age and height for fast-growing species (western larch and lodgepole pine) than for slower-growing species (Engelmann spruce and Douglas-fir).

Keywords: Douglas-fir; Engelmann spruce; lodgepole pine; terminal bud scar; western larch

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2013

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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 Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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