Estimation and Determination of Carrying Capacity in Loblolly Pine
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Stand carrying capacity is the maximum size of population for a species under given environmental conditions. Site resources limit the maximum volume or biomass that can be sustained in forest stands. This study was aimed at estimating and determining the carrying capacity in loblolly pine. Maximum stand basal area (BA) that can be sustained over a long period of time can be regarded as a measure of carrying capacity. To quantify and project stand BA carrying capacity, one approach is to use the estimate from a fitted cumulative BA-age equation; another approach is to obtain BA estimates implied by maximum size-density relationships (MSDRs), denoted implied maximum stand BA. The efficacy of three diameter-based MSDR measures: Reineke's self-thinning rule, competition-density rule and Nilson's sparsity index, were evaluated. Estimates from three MSDR measures were compared with estimates from the Chapman-Richards (C-R) equation fitted to the maximum stand BA observed on plots from spacing trials. The spacing trials, established in the two physiographic regions (Piedmont and Coastal Plain), and at two different scales (operational and miniature) were examined and compared, which provides a sound empirical basis for evaluating potential carrying capacity. Results showed that the stands with high initial planting density approached the stand BA carrying capacity sooner than the stands with lower initial planting density. The maximum stand BA associated with planting density developed similarly at the two scales. The potential carrying capacity in the two physiographic regions was significantly different. The value of implied maximum stand BA converted from three diameter-based MSDR measures was similar to the maximum stand BA curve obtained from the C-R equation. Nilson's sparsity index was the most stable and reliable estimate of stand BA carrying capacity. The flexibility of Nilson's sparsity index can illustrate the effect of physiographic regions on stand BA carrying capacity. Because some uncontrollable factors on long-term operational experiments can make estimates of stand BA carrying capacity unreliable for loblolly pine, it is suggested that the stand BA carrying capacity could be estimated from high initial planting density stands in a relatively short period of time so that the risk of damages and the costs of experiments could be reduced. For estimating carrying capacity, another attractive option is to choose a miniature scale trial (microcosm) because it shortens the experiment time and reduces costs greatly.
- Masters Theses