Fusing tree-ring and forest inventory data to infer influences on tree growth

Margaret E.K. Evans, Donald Falk, Alexis Arizpe, Tyson L. Swetnam, Flurin Babst, Kent E. Holsinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Better understanding and prediction of tree growth is important because of the many ecosystem services provided by forests and the uncertainty surrounding how forests will respond to anthropogenic climate change. With the ultimate goal of improving models of forest dynamics, here we construct a statistical model that combines complementary data sources, tree-ring and forest inventory data. A Bayesian hierarchical model was used to gain inference on the effects of many factors on tree growth—individual tree size, climate, biophysical conditions, stand-level competitive environment, tree-level canopy status, and forest management treatments—using both diameter at breast height (dbh) and tree-ring data. The model consists of two multiple regression models, one each for the two data sources, linked via a constant of proportionality between coefficients that are found in parallel in the two regressions. This model was applied to a data set of ~130 increment cores and ~500 repeat measurements of dbh at a single site in the Jemez Mountains of north-central New Mexico, USA. The tree-ring data serve as the only source of information on how annual growth responds to climate variation, whereas both data types inform non-climatic effects on growth. Inferences from the model included positive effects on growth of seasonal precipitation, wetness index, and height ratio, and negative effects of dbh, seasonal temperature, southerly aspect and radiation, and plot basal area. Climatic effects inferred by the model were confirmed by a dendroclimatic analysis. Combining the two data sources substantially reduced uncertainty about non-climate fixed effects on radial increments. This demonstrates that forest inventory data measured on many trees, combined with tree-ring data developed for a small number of trees, can be used to quantify and parse multiple influences on absolute tree growth. We highlight the kinds of research questions that can be addressed by combining the high-resolution information on climate effects contained in tree rings with the rich tree- and stand-level information found in forest inventories, including projection of tree growth under future climate scenarios, carbon accounting, and investigation of management actions aimed at increasing forest resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01889
JournalEcosphere
Volume8
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Fingerprint

forest inventory
growth rings
tree ring
tree growth
tree and stand measurements
climate
uncertainty
seasonal growth
information sources
statistical models
ecosystem services
basal area
forest dynamics
forest management
climate variation
climate effect
climate conditions
ecosystem service
mountains
climate change

Keywords

  • Climate
  • Competition
  • Data assimilation
  • Dendrochronology
  • Forest inventory
  • Hierarchical Bayesian model
  • Tree growth
  • Tree-ring data.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Evans, M. E. K., Falk, D., Arizpe, A., Swetnam, T. L., Babst, F., & Holsinger, K. E. (2017). Fusing tree-ring and forest inventory data to infer influences on tree growth. Ecosphere, 8(7), [e01889]. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1889

Fusing tree-ring and forest inventory data to infer influences on tree growth. / Evans, Margaret E.K.; Falk, Donald; Arizpe, Alexis; Swetnam, Tyson L.; Babst, Flurin; Holsinger, Kent E.

In: Ecosphere, Vol. 8, No. 7, e01889, 01.07.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Evans, MEK, Falk, D, Arizpe, A, Swetnam, TL, Babst, F & Holsinger, KE 2017, 'Fusing tree-ring and forest inventory data to infer influences on tree growth', Ecosphere, vol. 8, no. 7, e01889. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1889
Evans MEK, Falk D, Arizpe A, Swetnam TL, Babst F, Holsinger KE. Fusing tree-ring and forest inventory data to infer influences on tree growth. Ecosphere. 2017 Jul 1;8(7). e01889. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1889
Evans, Margaret E.K. ; Falk, Donald ; Arizpe, Alexis ; Swetnam, Tyson L. ; Babst, Flurin ; Holsinger, Kent E. / Fusing tree-ring and forest inventory data to infer influences on tree growth. In: Ecosphere. 2017 ; Vol. 8, No. 7.
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