Analysis of Stand Density Effects on Canopy Structure: A Conceptual Approach

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Trees - Structure and Function

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A few assumptions were used to generate a series of specific, quantitative predictions for the relationships between stand density and various dimensional measures of canopy structure. The predictions, each indicating an increase in mean crown size as density decreased, appeared to be reasonable and intuitive. Predictions were compared to data for two conifer species with different crown forms, Pinus contorta var. latifolia and Abies lasiocarpa. Results of these comparisons were mixed — the linear, directly measured dimensions were consistent with predicted relationships, but dimensions calculated from the linear measures were not. Re-examination of the original assumptions indicated that the model should account for crown shyness (engagement/disengagement) to adequately reflect the influence of stand density on canopy structure. The results also indicated a strong association between stand height and measures of mean crown size. Mean crown size of lodgepole pine was altered much more by density than was mean crown size of subalpine fir, due primarily to the different relative shade tolerances of the two species. Some of the observed differences between species may also reflect the range of densities examined and uneven spacing in the unmanaged natural stands.


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