Disturbance and persistence of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong) Carr.) in coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest, North America

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Abstract

Forests dominated by Picea sitchensis and Tsuga heterophylla occupy a narrow coastal strip along the Pacific Northwest coast. P. sitchensis is considered seral to T. heterophylla but descriptions of groups of P. sitchensis saplings and small trees in light gaps created by small canopy disturbances (<0.25 ha) suggest that P. sitchensis may persist by gap-phase regeneration after small-scale disturbance. This study combines analyses of the disturbance regime (gap size distribution, gap age distribution, the spatial distribution of gaps, forest turnover time), patterns of tree regeneration and tree growth in gaps to determine if P. sitchensis can persist under a small gap disturbance regime. Tree replacement models derived from tree replacement patterns in gaps were used to predict abundances of P. sitchensis and T. heterophylla in the next generation. Tree replacement models did not predict a decline in P. sitchensis abundance in the next generation. Gaps of 800-1000 m2 appear large enough for P. sitchensis to persist in these forests. -Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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