Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 553-567

First online:

Mortality and recruitment in an urban forest (Forest Park in Portland, Oregon) between 1993 and 2003

  • Nancy E. BroshotAffiliated withAssociate Professor of Environmental Studies, Linfield College Email author 

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I examined tree recruitment and mortality over a ten-year period at permanent plots in an urban forest, Forest Park, in Portland, Oregon. The density and diameter at breast height (dbh) for all trees living and dead were measured in 1993 and again in 2003. Data were analyzed using paired Student t-tests. I found significantly fewer live and significantly more dead trees in 2003 than in 1993. The increase in mortality was significant for all species of trees and for all sizes except large diameter trees. Mortality rates ranged from 0% to 67% at my sites. Recruitment was lower at all sites in 2003 with significantly fewer seedlings and saplings. The high mortality and low recruitment resulted in a net loss of trees at all sites. Loss of trees was not offset by increasing tree diameter, which suggests self-thinning is not the cause. No strong correlation with an urban to rural land use gradient was observed. The results may be related to global climate change or pollution. The high mortality of trees of all species in many diameter classes without a concomitant increase in recruitment could lead to dramatic changes in forest structure.


Forest ecology Urbanization Mortality Recruitment Trees