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Developing species-age cohorts from forest inventory and analysis data to parameterize a forest landscape model

March 4, 2021

Simulating long-term, landscape level changes in forest composition requires estimates of stand age to initialize succession models. Detailed stand ages are rarely available, and even general information on stand history often is lacking. We used data from USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) database to estimate broad age classes for a forested landscape to simulate changes in landscape composition and structure relative to climate change at Fort Drum, a 43,000 ha U.S. Army installation in northwestern New York. Using simple linear regression, we developed relationships between tree diameter and age for FIA site trees from the host and adjacent ecoregions and applied those relationships to forest stands at Fort Drum. We observed that approximately half of the variation in age was explained by diameter breast height (DBH) across all species studied (r2 = 0.42 for sugar maple Acer saccharum to 0.63 for white ash Fraxinus americana). We then used age-diameter relationships from published research on northern hardwood species to calibrate results from the FIA-based analysis. With predicted stand age, we used tree species life histories and environmental conditions represented by ecological site types to parameterize a stochastic forest landscape model (LANDIS-II) to spatially and temporally model successional changes in forest communities at Fort Drum. Forest stands modeled over 100 years without significant disturbance appeared to reflect expected patterns of increasing dominance by shade-tolerant mesophytic tree species such as sugar maple, red maple (Acer rubrum), and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) where soil moisture was sufficient. On drier sandy soils, eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), red pine (P. resinosa), northern red oak (Quercus rubra), and white oak (Q. alba) continued to be important components throughout the modeling period with no net loss at the landscape scale. Our results suggest that despite abundant precipitation and relatively low evapotranspiration rates for the region, low soil water holding capacity and fertility may be limiting factors for the spread of mesophytic species on excessively drained soils in the region. Increasing atmospheric temperatures projected for the region could alter moisture regimes for many coarse-textured soils providing a possible mechanism for expansion of xerophytic tree species.

Publication Year 2021
Title Developing species-age cohorts from forest inventory and analysis data to parameterize a forest landscape model
DOI 10.1155/2021/6650821
Authors Richard H. Odom, W. Mark Ford
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Forestry Research
Index ID 70227101
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown