, Volume 143, Issue 2, pp 189-202

Frequency of partial and missing rings in Acer saccharum in relation to canopy position and growth rate

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Abstract

Locally absent growth rings are known to occur in trees during periods of environmental stress, but little evidence has been available on their frequency in moist temperate forests or on their potential for causing problems in dendroecological studies. In this study, 95 stem disks of Acer saccharum cut from trees representing a wide range of size and age were examined for ring anomalies using three techniques – inspection of disks for partial rings, crossdating of each tree against regional master chronologies, and use of stand history evidence. The number of ring anomalies in Acer saccharum was inversely related to growth rate and vigor. Mean percentage of ring anomalies was 1.3% in dominant canopy trees, 4.6% in trees of the intermediate crown class, and 16.2% in overtopped trees. All of the overtopped trees had partial or missing rings, with a mean of 10 per tree and a range of 2 to 20. Use of crossdating to correct for ring anomalies appeared to be successful in 88% of the canopy trees. However, crossdating results were inconclusive in 32% of the overtopped trees because of low ring width variability, multiple missing rings, and short duration of trouble-free segments. Because overtopped trees are of limited value in reconstructing disturbance history and often cannot be crossdated reliably, we suggest that they normally be excluded from disturbance chronologies.