Date of this Version
Forest Ecology and Management 379 (2016) pp. 281–287.
While ecological succession shapes contemporary forest structure and dynamics, other factors like forest structure (dense vs. sparse canopies) and climate may alter structural trajectories. To assess potential sources of variation in structural trajectories, we examined proportional biomass change for a regionally dominant tree species, Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco), across vegetation zones representing broad gradients in precipitation and temperature with 3510 forest inventory plots in Oregon and Washington, USA. We found that P. menziesii biomass change decreased with P. menziesii biomass stocks and increased with P. menziesii density, remaining positive in older stands only in the wet and warm vegetation zone. Within two of the vegetation zones, biomass change was greatest in warm and wet environments. In dry vegetation zones, positive P. menziesii biomass change responses to initial canopy cover and canopy cover change (i.e., increases with cover loss and decreases with cover gain) indicated shifts in forest structure. Variation in P. menziesii biomass dynamics within and between vegetation zones imply multi-scale climatic controls on forest structural trajectories for P. menziesii and highlight the potential for continued atmospheric carbon sequestration in warm and wet forests of the Pacific Northwest for both young and old forests, given that future climatic conditions support similar forest dynamics.