As atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations continue to rise and global temperatures increase, there is growing concern about the sustainability, health, and carbon sequestration potential of forest ecosystems. Variable retention harvesting (VRH) has been suggested to be a potential method to increase forest biodiversity, growth, and carbon (C) sequestration. A field trial was established in an 88-year-old red pine ( Pinus resinosa Ait.) plantation in southern Ontario, Canada, using a completely randomized design to examine the response of tree productivity and other forest values to five harvesting treatments: 33% aggregate retention (33A), 55% aggregate retention (55A), 33% dispersed retention (33D), and 55% dispersed retention (55D) in comparison to an unharvested control (CN). In this study, we explored the impacts of VRH on aboveground stem radial growth and annual C increment. Standard dendrochronological methods and allometric equations were used to quantify tree- and stand-level treatment effects during a five-year pre-harvest (2009–2013) and post-harvest (2014–2018) period. Tree-level growth and C increment were increased by the dispersed retention pattern regardless of retention level. At the stand level, the total C increment was highest at greater retention levels and did not vary with retention pattern. These results suggest that the choice of retention level and pattern can have a large influence on management objectives as they relate to timber production, climate change adaptation, and/or climate change mitigation.
Forests play a major role in the global carbon cycle. Understanding the dynamics of the forest carbon cycle and its driving factors is challenging. This study utilized dendrochronology and long-term (2003–2017) eddy covariance (EC) carbon flux data to investigate the relationships between tree growth and gross and net ecosystem productivities (GEPEC and NEPEC) in different-age (15-, 42- and 78-year old) pine plantation forests in the Great Lakes region in eastern North America. Tree growth in these different-age pine forests was significantly (p < 0.05) correlated with observed annual GEPEC values, while coherence between tree growth and NEPEC was relatively poor. Current-year and 1-year lagged ring-width chronologies and climate variables, including spring (April–May) temperature (TSPR) and Standardized Potential Evapotranspiration Index (SPEISUM) over the summer months (June–August) were used to test ten different linear regression models to simulate tree-ring-based GEP (GEPTR) values at all three sites. This analysis showed that current-year growth was the best predictor of GEPTR at all three sites, when compared to observed GEPEC, except during drought years, when GEPTR was underestimated. Current-year tree growth models were then used to reconstruct GEPTR over the life span of each stand. These reconstructions showed low GEPTR values from 1978 to 1988 and from 2002 to 2007. Low GEPTR in late 1970s occurred in response to below average temperatures when there were no major drought periods, while low GEPTR in early 2000s occurred following drought-like conditions in 2002. However, in recent years relatively higher GEPTR was observed at all three different-age forest sites. This interdisciplinary study will help to improve our understanding of carbon exchanges and the key environmental controls and associated uncertainties on tree growth in these different-age plantation stands in eastern North America. It will also help to determine how these forests may respond to climate change.
Abstract Tree growth rings from three specimens in two different aged (14- and 77-year old) white pine plantation forests were analyzed for stable carbon isotope ratios to identify both short- and long-term variations in physiological response to changing environmental conditions. Three isotopic (δ13Ccorr) time series records were constructed from whole wood samples extracted from paths parallel to the growth rings in each forest. These δ13Ccorr records were corrected for the long-term anthropogenically induced CO2 and compared to historical climate (temperature, precipitation) data from 1935 to 2016. High resolution inter-annual variations in trees in each stand displayed similar intra-annual cycles in δ13Ccorr, demonstrating the seasonal physiological response of these forests to environmental stressors. In both stands, growing season temperature acted as a significant control (p