Departmental Papers (EES)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

January 2003


We remeasured two sets of permanent plots in old-growth, spruce–fir forests on Whiteface Mountain to quantify ongoing vegetation dynamics at sites impacted by spruce decline. One set of plots was a stratified random sample of the vegetation in a subalpine watershed (Baldwin site). The other was selected to represent forest conditions in a high-elevation subset of the spruce–fir forest (Esther site). Between 1987 and 1997, there was a significant increase in aboveground tree biomass at Baldwin with the majority of the increment due to the growth of canopy-sized trees. This growth occurred with little change in either species composition or size structure. The annual mortality rate of 1.2%·year–1 for canopy-sized red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) in Baldwin almost matched the recruitment rate of 1.4 stems/ha per year. In addition, the relative growth rate of spruce was significantly faster than associated species. In contrast, spruce trees in Esther died at a rate of the 3.6%·year–1 (1985–1995), and survivors grew more slowly than other species. The most obvious community-level trend at Esther (1985–2000) was an increase in overall tree density with most of this increase due to ingrowth of small trees. The demography of the spruce population at Baldwin suggests that the decline is over for at least this population.


Copyright NRC Research Press. Published in Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Volume 33, Number 1, January 2003, pages 54-63.
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Date Posted: 28 July 2005

This document has been peer reviewed.