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Group selection management in conifer forests: relationships between opening size and tree growth


Replicated circular openings ranging in size from 0.1 to 1 ha were cleared in 1996 at Blodgett Forest Research Station, California, and planted with seedlings of six native species. After 5 years of postharvest growth, heights were measured and analyzed according to species, opening size, and location within opening. The sequence of mean height from tallest to shortest, according to species, was as follows: giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum (Lindl.) Buchholz) > incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens (Torr.) Florin) > Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco var. menziesii) ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) > sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana Dougl.) white fir (Abies concolor (Gord. & Glend.) Lindl.). To describe the influence of openings size on seedling height, we use an information-theoretic approach to select from competing models that predicted fifth-year height from group selection opening size. Asymptotic fits (modeled with Michaelis-Menton curves) were selected for giant sequoia, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, and incense-cedar. Quadratic fits were selected for white fir and Douglas-fir. Linear models predicting increasing growth with opening size were consistently ruled out for all species. Although a marked depression in seedling-height growth occurred along the edges within the openings, mean annual radial increment of the 90-year-old border trees surrounding the openings increased by 30%, compared with other canopy trees in the forested matrix between openings.

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