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Age-related changes in oak forest productivity

Record Type: Research Project

Project Start Date: Jan. 1, 2010

Principal Investigators: Kevin Griffin, J.D. Lewis, Katherine Pavlis, William Schuster, David Tissue, David Whitehead, Chengyuan Xu

Description: Age-related decline in forest growth is a well-known but scarcely studied paradigm in forest ecology. Clearly a mechanistic understanding of the patterns of growth associated with tree aging is fundamental to assessing the role of forests as carbon sinks, constructing mechanistic models of forest growth, predicting the response of forests to a changing climate as well as to a basic understanding of forest form and function.

Nearly all of the studies of age-related decline have focused on coniferous species, primarily from the western US where old growth forests are more common. Studies on deciduous species dominating the forests of the northeast are conspicuously absent.

The study focuses on five sites representing five distinct age classes (35, 70, 95, 110 and 130+ years). At each site, twelve canopy dominant red oak trees are be selected for sampling. The measurements are made on detached branches from the upper sun-lit canopy. The focus of this experiment is to quantify the physiological capacity for carbon fixation, basic foliar respiration rates, leaf chemical and physical properties, and site leaf area index and standing biomass.

Keyword: Climate Change, Forest Ecology, Long-Term, Plants, Woody Plants (Trees and Shrubs)