Funded Research Projects: SRM

Understanding and Modeling Competition Effects on Tree Growth and Stand Development Across Varying Forest Types and Management Intensities

Research Sponsored By: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Principal Investigator: Eric Turnblom
Project Description
Forests sequester carbon, provide clean water and oxygen, promote biodiversity, provide recreational opportunities, and produce a host of wood products. Wood is a major economic commodity, serving as the raw material for the paper and building products industries and it is becoming increasingly important as a feedstock for the emerging biomaterials and bioenergy sectors. Managing forests for a myriad of wood products and ecosystems services requires reliable models of tree growth and stand dynamics that incorporate a full range of silvicultural and utilization options. Forest stand dynamics are a function of the species present, the site quality, the degree to which the site is occupied, stand age in the case of even-aged stands or elapsed time from a specified initial condition for uneven-aged stands, and management treatments. Quantification of site occupancy is central to developing reliable models for predicting forest growth and yield. Because of the importance of quantitatively describing site occupancy and competition for growth resources, much attention has been devoted to the problem of developing stand- and point-density measures, but it remains an elusive and vexing component of forest growth and yield forecasting for multiple reasons. Relating resource availability and competition intensity to growth is central to understanding and projecting forest stand dynamics. Understanding competition dynamics is paramount for evaluating management activities such as deploying genetic material, prescribing site preparation treatments and planting density, predicting response to control of inter-and intra-specific competition via vegetation control and thinning, and ameliorating nutrient deficiencies through fertilizer applications. Increased understanding of competition processes and formulation of improved models for quantifying competition effects, the aim of this research, will enhance evaluation of a wide array of forest management options ranging from intensively-managed even-aged stands of single species to extensively-managed uneven-aged, mixed-species systems.