Productivity and growth efficiency in sugar maple forests

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Sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.)-dominated northern hardwood forests were examined at four locations along an acid deposition and climatic gradient in the Great Lakes region of the USA. The study sites were matched in terms of physiography, soils, stand history, and vegetative characteristics. Measurements of basal area and biomass growth were made for the 1988-1991 growing seasons. There were no significant differences in either basal area of biomass increment among the four sites over the 4 year period. There was a great deal of year-to-year variability with relative basal area growth rates ranging from as low as 0.2% to as high as 2.4% on a single site in successive years. Growth efficiency measures reflected this variability with as much as an 800% difference between successive years on a single site. When coupled with year-to-year variability of up to 34% in leaf area related to heavy seed years and defoliation, this indicates that growth efficiency and leaf area measures are not consistent indicators of aboveground productivity for tolerant deciduous species, especially if derived from short-term measurements or temporary plots. © 1994.

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Forest Ecology and Management