A piecewise polynomial function already used to represent the size-density trajectories of pure even-aged stands of beech, oak, and Douglas-fir proved its ability to represent the size-density trajectories of a new species, ash. The widespread ash dieback caused departures from the expected size-density trajectories. These abnormalities can be used to detect an extra level of mortality due to infection by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus in pure even-aged ash stands.
Context The size-density trajectories allow quantifying more precisely the density of stands and can help the forest manager to decide of the opportunity of thinnings. This study helped to quantify extra mortality in pure even-aged stands by using the size-density trajectories established for stands evolving at maximum density.
Aims This study was conducted to establish size-density trajectories of pure even-aged ash stands and compare them with those recently established for beech and oak in France, in particular concerning the onset of density-dependent (regular) mortality. The additional effect of ash dieback on mortality was also an issue.
Material and methods We used permanent and semi-permanent unthinned ash plots installed in the north of France and where inventories of trees were performed at more or less regular intervals: measurements included tree status (dead or alive) and diameter or girth at breast height for all trees and total height for a sample of living trees. The size-density trajectories of plots describing the course of the number of living trees in relation with the mean stand girth, in logarithmic scales, were modeled with a piecewise polynomial function fitted with a mixed-effects model. A permanent sample of trees was also selected for ash dieback and extra mortality monitoring.
Results The piecewise polynomial function already used proved its ability to represent the size-density trajectories of even-aged ash stands of various initial densities and fertility levels. As for beech and oak, the trajectories were modeled so that mortality onset occurred at a constant relative density. This level appeared to be much higher for ash (RDI = 0.58), revealing that ash survived with less growing space than beech and oak and appeared to be more efficient. Ash dieback caused an additional mortality in the experimental ash stands studied, and this excess of mortality appeared predictable on the basis of observed departures from the expected size-density trajectories.
Conclusion A single parameter function family could be used to predict the size-density trajectories of even-aged ash stands, on the basis of the results obtained previously on oak and beech. Mortality onset and space requirements of ash could be compared with those of beech and oak and show that ash can survive at higher densities and is a more efficient species. Predicted size-density trajectories proved also useful to detect and quantify the excess of mortality due to H. fraxineus on ash. This approach could be extended to other diseases and species with predictable size-density trajectories.
Ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.), Size-density, Self-thinning, Mortality, Growth, Ash dieback, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, Mixed-effects model
Le Goff, N., Ningre, F. & Ottorini, JM. Modeling size-density trajectories of even-aged ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) stands in France. A baseline to assess the impact of Chalara ash dieback. Annals of Forest Science 78, 3 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-020-01005-4
For the read-only version of the full text:
The data sets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the Data INRAE repository, https://doi.org/10.15454/OMMABO
John M Lhotka
This article is part of the Topical Collection “Mensuration and modelling for forestry in a changing environment“