Modeling Mortality of Loblolly Pine Plantations
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Accurate prediction of mortality is an important component of forest growth and yield prediction systems, yet mortality remains one of the least understood components of the system. Whole-stand and individual-tree mortality models were developed for loblolly pine plantations throughout its geographic range in the United States. The model for predicting stand mortality were developed using stand characteristics and biophysical variables. The models were constructed using two modeling approaches. In the first approach, mortality functions for directly predicting tree number reduction were developed using algebraic difference equation method. In the second approach, a two-step modeling strategy was used where a model predicting the probability of tree death occurring over a period was developed in the first step and a function that estimates the reduction in tree number was developed in the second step. Individual-tree mortality models were developed using multilevel logistic regression and survival analysis techniques. Multilevel data structure inherent in permanent sample plots data i.e. measurement occasions nested within trees (e.g., repeated measurements) and trees nested within plots, is often ignored in modeling tree mortality in forestry applications. Multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression takes into account the full hierarchical structure of the data. Multilevel mixed-effects models gave better predictions than the fixed effects model; however, the model fits and predictions were further improved by taking into account the full hierarchical structure of the data. Semiparametric proportional hazards regression was also used to develop model for individual-tree mortality. Shared frailty model, mixed model extension of Cox proportional hazards model, was used to account for unobserved heterogeneity not explained by the observed covariates in the Cox model.
- Doctoral Dissertations