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

  • Author / Creator
    Cortini, Francesco
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Renewable Resources
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Comeau, Phil (Renewable Resources)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Kershaw, Peter (Earth and Atmospheric Science)
    • Hamann, Andreas (Renewable Resources)
    • Lieffers, Victor (Renewable Resources)
    • Hawkins, Chris (Ecosystem Science and Management)