Table of Contents
ISRN Forestry
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 271549, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/271549
Research Article

Geographic Patterns and Stand Variables Influencing Growth and Vigor of Populus tremuloides in the Sierra Nevada (USA)

Department of Forestry and Wildland Resources, Humboldt State University, 1 Harpst Street, Arcata, CA 95521, USA

Received 2 October 2012; Accepted 20 October 2012

Academic Editors: G. Martinez Pastur and H. Zeng

Copyright © 2012 John-Pascal Berrill and Christa M. Dagley. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Awareness of geographic patterns and stand variables that influence tree growth will help forest managers plan appropriate management and monitoring strategies. We quantified influences of stand location, species composition, stand density, and tree size on aspen tree growth and vigor around the Lake Tahoe Basin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and Nevada, USA. Radial growth data were taken from increment cores. Aspen trees on the south and west sides of the lake grew 20–25% faster than aspen in north and east side stands. Diameter growth at 2,400 m elevation was 58% of growth at 1,900 m near lake level. Aspen grew faster with less competition from neighbor trees. At any level of competition, aspen growth was slower beside conifer neighbors and correlated with crown ratio (CR: length of live crown relative to total tree height, a proxy for tree vigor). Analysis of independent CR data for 707 aspen trees in nine additional stands indicated that aspen had smaller crowns in the presence of greater competition, and that composition of neighbor trees also affected CR: aspen trees had shorter crowns in the presence of conifer at higher stand densities. Taken collectively, our analyses point towards a cascading decline in aspen growth and vigor incited by succession of aspen stands to conifers. Our findings suggest that conifer removal and stand density control in aspen-conifer stands at Lake Tahoe will enhance aspen growth and vigor.