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Age-related decline in forest growth: an emergent property
Forest Ecology and Management (2001)
  • James N. Long, Utah State University
  • Frederick W Smith, Colorado State University - Fort Collins
Proposed explanations for the age-related decline in forest production (i.e. ‘culmination of current annual increment’) generally fall into one of two categories: (1) the ecophysiology of individual, generally old, trees; and (2) structural changes at the population level associated with increasing stand age. The decline in production occurs in young forests, is substantial at young stand ages, and timing of decline can be altered simply by changes in stand density. Changes in physiology of old trees do not account for the near-universal decline in production in developing stands. Rather, peak production and its subsequent decline are associated with inevitable changes in the structure of developing forest stands. Peak production almost invariably occurs as peak community leaf area is obtained. Substantial changes in canopy architecture, production efficiency, and tree population structure occur at this point, resulting in declining stand-level production. These changes are emergent properties that must be studied and understood at the population level, and are not derived from individual tree physiological processes.
  • growth,
  • production,
  • stand dynamics,
  • culmination
Publication Date
Citation Information
James N. Long and Frederick W Smith. "Age-related decline in forest growth: an emergent property" Forest Ecology and Management Vol. 144 Iss. 1-3 (2001) p. 175 - 181
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