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Growth and yield implications of site preparation, competition control, and climate in the western boreal forest Open Access


Other title
white spruce, lodgepole pine, site preparation, climate change, mixedwood forest, growth models
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Cortini, Francesco
Supervisor and department
Comeau, Phil (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Kershaw, Peter (Earth and Atmospheric Science)
Lieffers, Victor (Renewable Resources)
Hamann, Andreas (Renewable Resources)
Hawkins, Chris (Ecosystem Science and Management)
Department of Renewable Resources

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The main goal of this thesis was to improve our understanding of the long-term effects of establishment treatments and climate change on lodgepole pine and white spruce growth in the western boreal forests. My dissertation also investigated the combined effects of climate and competition on white spruce and trembling aspen growth in boreal mixtures. In the first part of the thesis I evaluated the effects of site preparation treatments on growth of lodgepole pine and white spruce in north-eastern British Columbia. Results indicate that mechanical site preparation can provide yield gains of up-to 10 percent for pine and spruce at 60 and 80 years, respectively. These stands are showing a Type 1 growth response which implies that the treatment effect will eventually cease 90-100 years after planting. In the second part of the thesis I explored pine and spruce growth in relation to past climate and site preparation. Results indicate that up-to 45% and 37% of the respective variation in spruce and pine growth can be explained by selected climatic variables. Future projections indicated that height growth of young pine plantations in the sub-boreal zone could benefit (in the short term) from longer growing seasons by up-to 12% on untreated stands. Untreated young spruce plantations in the boreal zone may suffer height growth decreases of up-to 10% due to increased drought-stress. Vegetation control and mechanical site preparation treatments appear to mitigate effects of climate change to some extent. In the third part of the thesis I explored the combined effects of climate and trembling aspen competition on spruce and aspen growth using data from a long-term study in the boreal zone. Results indicate that climate variables and initial size of the tree can account for significant portions of the annual growth of spruce. Including an estimate of aspen competition in the equations improved the predictive ability of these models. Evidence of the inter-annual variability in aspen competitiveness on spruce and aspen growth indicates that the stress-gradient hypothesis can be applied in boreal mixedwood forests.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Thesis Proposal ��� Draft October 7, 2008
File title: Thesis Proposal ??? Draft October 7, 2008
File title: Thesis Proposal Draft October 7, 2008
File author: Francesco Cortini
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File language: en-CA
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