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Tree improvement effects on tree size distributions for Picea glauca and Picea mariana in New Brunswick, Canada

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Height and diameter distributions between improved and unimproved (checklot) seedlots for white spruce [Picea glauca (Moench) Voss] and black spruce [Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP] were compared using the two-parameter Weibull function. Individual tree height at age 5-15 years and diameter at breast height at age 15 years that were collected from two series of large-plot realized gain tests were used for this purpose. For both species, improved seedlots did not significantly (α=0.05) change the shape parameter of the distributions relative to their checklots, suggesting that an overall shape value will be adequate to predict tree size distributions of various improved seedlots. The most important finding was that seedlot influenced the scale parameter (related to the range of the distribution) significantly, but from a practical viewpoint, only those scale values of the higher rated seedlots (i.e. seedlots collected from a rogued seed orchard or superior families) were significantly higher (α=0.05) than those of the respective unimproved seedlot. The changes in scale value of the alternative improved seedlots relative to the checklot (ΔScale) were comparable in magnitude to the respective realized genetic gains, suggesting that tree improvement effects on the scale value can be adjusted by realized genetic gains. The results also suggest that site and age significantly affected the scale value; in general, ΔScale became larger at earlier ages or on better sites. The findings reported here will be used in the development of yield functions for genetically improved white and black spruce in New Brunswick.
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Keywords: Growth and yield model; Weibull distribution; realized gain test; seed orchard

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, Kingsclear Forest Nursery, Island View, NB, Canada 2: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service-Atlantic Forestry Centre, Fredericton, NB, Canada

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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