Severe red spruce winter injury in 2003 creates unusual ecological event in the northeastern United States
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Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 1784-1788.
Abundant winter injury to the current-year (2002) foliage of red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) became apparent in the northeastern United States in late winter of 2003. To assess the severity and extent of this damage, we measured foliar winter injury at 28 locations in Vermont and surrounding states and bud mortality at a subset of these sites. Ninety percent of all trees assessed showed some winter injury, and trees lost an average of 46% of all current-year foliage. An average of 32% of buds formed in 2002 were killed in association with winter injury. Both foliar and bud mortality increased with elevation and with crown dominance, and bud mortality increased with greater foliar injury. Foliar injury in 2003 at a plantation near Colebrook, New Hampshire, was more than five times the typical levels for 9 previous years of measurement and more than twice that measured for another high-injury year. Plantation data also indicated that bud mortality in 2003 was greater than previously documented and that persistent winter injury was associated with increased tree mortality. Comparisons of our data with past studies for two sites with native red spruce also indicated that damage in 2003 was greater than other recently reported, high-injury years. Because heavy foliar and bud losses can severely disrupt the carbon economies of trees, the 2003 winter injury event could lead to further spruce decline and mortality, particularly among dominant trees at higher elevations.
Lazarus, Brynne E.; Schaberg, Paul G.; DeHayes, Donald H.; Hawley, Gary J. 2004. Severe red spruce winter injury in 2003 creates unusual ecological event in the northeastern United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 1784-1788.