Modelling self-pruning and branch attributes for young **Quercus robur** L. and **Fagus sylvatica** L. trees
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Forest ecology and management. - Amsterdam
, p. 2023-2034
University of Antwerp
The aim of this study was to develop statistical models for first order branchiness in young planted forest stands of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L), and to give an ecological and silvicultural interpretation to these models. The reported models focus on the lower most-valuable stem part ( i.e. until 6 m height), and cover different tree development classes to capture the development of branchiness over time. For each species 30 study plots were selected spread over two nearby forests in Flanders (northern Belgium), minimising site and genetic variability. Branches were counted on a total of 399 oak and 376 beech trees. On a subsample of 30 trees per species (one tree per plot), detailed non-destructive branch measurements were performed, yielding data for 555 oak and 438 beech branches. For both species, models for tree self-pruning (i.e. total branch number and dead branch portion), branch mortality and branch architecture (i.e. branch diameter and branch insertion angle) were built. A generalised linear mixed modelling approach was adopted. The models for total branch number and dead branch portion may be interpreted in terms of four processes contributing to self-pruning: (1) stand and tree development, (2) tree competitive status, (3) stand density and (4) site humidity. The reported models reveal similar self-pruning rates in oak and beech, but with different driving factors: early branch dying and slow shedding for oak and the other way around for beech. Mortality of individual branches is further determined by branch position and branch dimension. Branch diameter and branch insertion angle of both species are mainly related to branch cord length and relative branch position. All modelled effects are consistent with known ecological and ecophysiological processes. Silvicultural implications for stand establishment and early tree selection are discussed. The reported models can be used to fine-tune operational silvicultural choices for quality timber production. This is a first step towards the integration of branchiness models for oak and beech into forest growth simulators. (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.