Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Division of Forestry and Natural Resources
Red spruce (Picea rubens) was historically an important and dominant timber species in the central Appalachian mountain range. The tree species is now found in a small fraction of its original home range. Threatened and endangered organisms such as the Cheat Mountain Salamander (Plethodon nettingi) rely on red spruce associated forests for survival. Recent concerns including air pollution and climate change may threaten the health of remaining red spruce populations.
I used dendrochronology data to conduct historic dendroclimatic analyses and construct future growth projections for red spruce throughout the central Appalachians. My research involves the use of tree core data collected from over 83 randomly selected trees across red spruce’s range throughout the Monongahela National Forest. Major results of this research show red spruce is sensitive to extreme warming temperature conditions. Temperature extremes in the summer growing season can potentially lead to increased tree respiration which causes temperature induced drought stress. Increasing minimum temperatures in the fall have positive effects on spruce growth. This is a result of an extended growing season that allows red spruce to store more carbohydrate reserves which are necessary for next year’s growth. Growth projection results under a future climate change scenario show that future expected increases in maximum monthly temperatures will have negative effects on future spruce growth. These negative future growth effects may be mitigated by an extended nontraditional growing season, which allows the tree to accumulate more growth reserves for next year’s growing season. Dendroclimatic results and future growth projections should be considered when identifying locations that are most suitable for future red spruce restoration activities.
Anamorphic site index curves were created for central Appalachian red spruce using age-height data combinations. My anamorphic site index curves offer forest managers a potentially better model for determining red spruce site index values for central Appalachian red spruce. My site index models could be better suited for use in the central Appalachians as opposed to historic red spruce site index models created with data from northern or southern red spruce populations. I also developed linear models that use associated species, climatic, and geographic variables to predict red spruce site index where red spruce is absent from the overstory. These linear models are a useful tool that forest managers can use to determine red spruce productivity in terms of site index. Linear models that use associated species to estimate central Appalachian red spruce are important because red spruce is absent on much of its original home range. Being able to determine red spruce site index where the species is currently absent will serve as a useful decision-making tool at selecting locations for restoration activities.
Yetter, Eric L., "Dendroclimatic Analysis and Site Index Modeling of Central Appalachian Red Spruce" (2020). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 7732.