, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 29–34 | Cite as

Diameter increment in mature eastern white pine Pinus strobus L. following partial harvest of old-growth stands in Ontario, Canada

  • Daniel P. Bebber
  • Sean C. Thomas
  • William G. Cole
  • David Balsillie
Original Article


Little is known about the responses of large, old trees to release from competition, though such trees are of great interest in forest ecology, conservation and silviculture. Increment cores were taken from mature eastern white pines (Pinus strobus L.) in 144 sample points in 12 partially harvested and 6 unharvested control stands in Ontario, Canada, to determine how these trees responded to a 'structural retention harvest' that had occurred 9 years previously. Prior to harvest, increment growth was slightly lower in control stands, but not significantly so. Strong correlation in diameter increments among stands indicates external climatic forcing or internal synchronicity, e.g. reproductive allocation. Three years after harvest, growth in harvested stands overtook that in control stands, and increased to 63±8% SE above expected levels by 8 years after harvest. The study demonstrates the ability of old trees to respond markedly to reduced competition, questioning the concept of an age-related decline in forest productivity. In addition to increased timber production, growth responses of old trees have important implications for stand regeneration, wind firmness, and maintenance of wildlife habitat elements following partial stand harvests. Comparison of disturbed stands with undisturbed stands allows better estimation of tree responses than methods in which disturbance is inferred from diameter increment variation within individual trees.


Dendrochronology Structural retention harvest Tree ring increment 



The study was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The authors thank R. Ancelin, C. Bebber, D. Derbrowka, M. Kijazi, J. Kokes, E. Mallory, E. Orton and L. Zimmerman for assistance in the field.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel P. Bebber
    • 1
    • 3
  • Sean C. Thomas
    • 1
  • William G. Cole
    • 2
  • David Balsillie
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of ForestryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Forest Research InstituteSault Ste. MarieCanada
  3. 3.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxford UK

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