Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) Growth Rate within the Black Hills of South Dakota
Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science
South Dakota Academy of Science
Average annual growth rate of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) was measured in the Black Hills of South Dakota at locations where some method of aspen treatment (slash, clear fell coppice, hinging, conifer removal, fencing, or combinations of these treatments) had been in effect for 10-14 years. Aspen suckers in the Black Hills require protection from ungulate browse to reach a size great enough to perpetuate the stand. Knowing the time required for protection would provide land managers information to increase aspen survival. The Black Hills average annual growth rate was 20 cm in height and 2.2 mm in diameter. Average annual increases in height ranged from 15 cm per year in the Northern Black Hills to 27 cm in the Central Black Hills. At least twenty years of protection from ungulates would be required for aspen to reach heights of 4 m at a growth rate of 20 cm per year. General consensus is aspen suckers should reach 1.5 m in height to survive browsing from domestic livestock and 2-4 m in height to survive browsing from wild ungulates. Aspen suckers also need to reach 4 cm diameter at breast height to survive extreme elk (Cervus canadensis) browsing pressure. Normal growth in the western U.S. has been estimated to be 40-50 cm height per year and 4-5 mm diameter per year. At the normal growth rate, 8-10 years would be required to reach the minimal survival size (1.5-2 m), but aspen in the Black Hills may require browse protection for twice the time.
Mergen, Z., C. J. Corley, G. Kostel, and D. E. Mergen. 2020. Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) Growth Rate within the Black Hills of South Dakota. Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science 99:83-91.