Growth of canopy red oak near its northern range limit: current trends, potential drivers, and implications for the future
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Canadian Journal of Forest Research
Red oak (Quercus rubra L.) is projected to expand into the northern hardwood forest over the coming century. We explored the connection between red oak basal area growth and a number of factors (tree age and size, stand dynamics, site elevation, and climate and acid deposition variables) for 213 trees in 11 plots throughout Vermont, USA. Red oak growth generally increased over the course of the chronology (1935–2014) and has been particularly high in recent decades. Growth differed among elevational groups but did not differ between age or size groups. Summer moisture metrics were consistently and positively associated with growth, whereas fall moisture was associated with reduced growth in recent decades. Higher summer temperatures were often negatively associated with growth, though there was evidence that low temperatures in the summer (higher elevations) and fall (lower elevations) constrain growth. Several pollution metrics were associated with reduced growth, a surprising result for a species not known to be sensitive to inputs of acid deposition that have predisposed other species in the region to decline. While red oak growth is currently robust, increases in summer temperatures, reductions in growing season precipitation, or increases in fall precipitation could reduce future growth potential.
Stern, Rebecca L.; Schaberg, Paul G.; Rayback, Shelly A.; Murakami, Paula F.; Hansen, Christopher F.; Hawley, Gary J. 2020. Growth of canopy red oak near its northern range limit: current trends, potential drivers, and implications for the future. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 50(10): 975-988. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2019-0200.