Growth Models and Mortality Functions for Unthinned and Thinned Loblolly Pine Plantations
Westfall, James Andrew
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Effects of thinning, such as increased diameter growth and decreased mortality in the residual stand, have been recognized by foresters for many years. These effects are largely the result of increased tree vigor which is induced by a decreased level of competition. These relationships are reflected in many of the models that are central to PTAEDA2, a growth and yield simulator which was developed for use with loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantations established on cut-over, site prepared lands. Data from a long-term thinning study served as a basis for attempting to improve the predictive output of PTAEDA2. Assessment of differences in model parameter estimates between three levels of thinning intensity led to various approaches to reach this goal. Height increment and mortality models were found to need no additional refinement and were re-fit using all available data. Diameter increment and crown ratio model forms could not account for thinning effects in their present form and thinning response functions that could provide the proper behavioral response were added to these models.Models were evaluated individually and in combinations in a reduced growth simulator. This reduced simulator is a modified form of the growth subroutines in PTAEDA2 and is designed to utilize external data. Results of growth simulation runs show improvements in predictive ability for the crown ratio model fit to all data and for the re-fit height increment model/crown ratio model with thinning response variable combination. The diameter increment model with a thinning response variable significantly improved diameter prediction within the simulator, but predicted stand volumes were poor. The re-fit mortality function resulted in greater prediction error for mortality than the original PTAEDA2 mortality function.
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