Shunpike - TSI and Height Density Calculations
  May 29, 2005 08:24 PDT 

    Yesterday Gary Beluzo, Susan Scott, and I went to the northern part of MTSF that we call the Shunpike area. One spot called Shunpike flats has a cluster of tall ash trees, the champion American basswood, and a scattering of other species. One the way to the flats, you pass through an area that has a small grove of bigtooth aspens, and a lot of N. red oaks, mixed with birch, maple, and ash. One N. red oak is at the bottom of a ravine and has been growing well over the past several years that we have been measuring it. While Gary and Susan computed a TSI for the area, I remeasured the tree. It is a skinny 6.9 feet in circumference and a cool 131.3 feet in height. It now joins the over 130 club of northern reds.

   On Shunpike flats I confirmed two of the previously three measured 140-foot ash trees in the general vicinity. The dimensions of the ash trees are (141.5, 7.6) and (143.2, 5.6). The (141.5, 7.6) was not previously included as a 140-footer, so it becomes #16 for MTSF in that height class.

   The height density determination was labor intensive. We established a circle that was 35 yards in radius. That produces an area 0.795 acres. The following is the tally of trees in the plot by the height classes >=100, and <100.

Species                   >=100         < 100
White ash                   21                2
Sugar maple                 5                7
N. red oak                   2                5
White pine                    1                0
   Red maple                   1                0
   B. nut hickory              1                0
   A. basswood               1                 1
   Yellow birch                0                 5
   Bigtooth aspen             0                 1
   Black cherry                0                  1
   A. beech                      0                  1
Totals                          32                 23
Projected to an acre       40                 29

    The 69 canopy trees in the projected acre is a light distribution for other areas of Mohawk. I would say that the average number of trees per acre in Mohawk would be between 90 and 100 - based on other samples I've taken. I think there are between 600,000 and 700,000 trees that form the canopy of MTSF. I suppose the number could go as high as 800,000, but I doubt any higher.

     This is just a first crack at computing height/diameter densities. It is a lot of work and I would be inclined to settle on a radius of 28 yards. That would represent a half acre area. Just a little more manageable. However, I can't quite see doing this kind of analysis in an area choked with mountain laurel or some other dense shrub. Certainly not rhodo.

Clonal Aspens and Measurement Plots   Robert Leverett
  May 31, 2005 10:14 PDT 


   I usually make a gut-feel call on the clonal aspect. If the aspens
are clustered together I suspect that they reproduced clonally. That's a
pretty loose rule. In other words, I'm making an educated guess. Maybe Lee
can address the clonal aspect and how frequently it explains clustering
in different environments.

   On Saturday's height-density exercise, we included all trees in the
plot which was centered within an old, flat forest opening, an opening
that produced the flush of white ash growth. We spent only enough time
with each tree to determine if it was above or below 100 feet. We could
often do this shooting straight up. If we couldn't verify 100 feet
shooting straight up, we went to greater lengths to determine a tree's
in or out status.

   Determining the limits if the plot required no more than shooting to
the trunk of each tree that was near the circumference of the circle
chosen. We chose 35 yards which included a convenient tree at the lower
boundary of a boulder field. We didn't want to have to negotiate the
boulder field.

   In applying the above method, we immediately saw that some trees were
obviously inside the circle and others obviously out. If there was any
question, of course you shot the tree. Foolishly I did not note the
starting time for the measuring, nor the ending time. We will be more
meticulous on the next effort.

    I chose the area for ease of measurement (low tree density and flat
terrain) and because it included two distinct populations. One
population is that of older dominant trees which began repopulating the
opening about 80 to 100 years ago and a second population of younger
trees that have grown up under the canopy of the originals.

    The appeal of MTSF is in its diversity of forest types, age
structures, and disturbance histories. There are numerous possibilities
for us to pursue. We can study: (1) multi-aged stands that reflect long
developmental histories (primary and secondary OG), (2) single-aged
stands (white pines) in at least 3 age classes, (3) stands with two age
classes, an old uniform-age class of pioneer species that overtops
younger settler species of a continuous age distribution up to around
50-60 years, and (4) young multi-species stands of 70-80 years and less.

    The ultimate goal is to develop an efficient method for developing
height-diameter density curves. Ideally, we document each tree for:

        (1) Species   
        (2) Exact height
        (3) Exact circumference
        (4) Distance from center point of plot
        (5) Azimuth
        (6) Age class ( 0 - 100, 101 - 200, > 200)
        (7) Slope angle to base
        (8) Form type (open growth, partially open grown, forest grown)
        (9) Condition (good, fair, poor)
        (10) Canopy dominant
         Number 2 is the most time consuming calculation. If everything
works out, we may be able to put in a plot using the above method this
Sunday. We'll opt for a fairly flat site.

         In addition to the above, we will get GPS coordinates (lat,
long, alt) for the center of the plot (if possible) along with a general
site description. We will note start and finish times and the role of
each participant. Wish us luck.


  Edward Frank wrote (May 30, 2005):


You and others have talked about groves of clonal aspens. I am wondering
how you can tell if the aspens are clonal grown from root spreading or
whether they were sexually reproduced?
Re: Clonal Aspens and Measurement Plots   Lee E. Frelich
  May 31, 2005 11:14 PDT 


Often you can see aspens that all turn color at the same time or turn all
the same color in the fall all in one patch, and it is highly likely that
the color patches indicate clones. Other than that you need to excavate
the root system or do genetic sampling to see if a patch of aspens are a
clone. For other tree species clusters are usually caused by neighborhood
effects other than root sprout clones.

Regarding the height density curves, I am not sure what your purpose is,
which makes it hard to tell if you are need to measure anything else or
modify your procedure. I assume your 10th variable is crown class
(dominance), so that each tree would be dominant, co-dominant, intermediate
or overtopped.

Re: Clonal Aspens and Measurement Plots   Robert Leverett
  May 31, 2005 11:49 PDT 

   My original intention was to begin laying the groundwork for going
beyond the current Rucker index concept by providing another way of
profiling the "tallness" of a forest. Number or density of trees over a
height threshold per unit area was the initial idea. I knew we could
classify a tree as over or under a height such as 100 feet with a
minimum of effort. So I began there. But where time permitted, by going
the extra step of accurately measuring the height of each tree, I
realized we could better see/classify the stratifications of the forest
canopy. I then extended this idea to include circumference (or diameter)
and the other variables to more completely profile what the trees are
doing at a site. I visualized the problem as one of going from
collecting a minimum of data to a maximum in some hierarchical scheme.
For our best areas of our best sites we would collect data on all
variables. Sampling would be for all the variables in the forest
cathedral of Cook, one of the pine stands or Ash Flats in Mohawk, the
most productive terrace in Zoar Valley.

   I'd like to look at the tradeoffs in terms of time/labor needed to
collect data across the range of variables. Apart from what we are 
doing under your direct supervision, periodically I try to think of what 
ENTS as a broader group can be doing in terms of building a database 
that reflects site data and range-wide species data.

   When Ed raised some valid concerns about the utility of multiple
iterations of the Rucker index, I realized that my enthusiastic defense
of the process masked what I actually do when looking at a site, and
that in actuality, computing Rucker indices convey only part of what
most of us do when profiling a site. My purpose is to    
paint as accurate of a picture of what is structurally going on at a
site as I can through the use of numbers. Height density profiling
occurred to me as the next step in the direction I was heading.

   The latest couple of e-mails extended the simple design of density of
trees by species over 100 feet to arrive at the Cadillac of the designs.
Of course other measurements could be thrown in to include crown length
and coverage, but I am less comfortable with crown measurements other
than the relatively simple crown spread calculations I periodically do.

   Before the advent of our laser rangefinders, a thorny measurement has
been area measurements. But for circular area, determining trees that
fall within or outside a circumference is very easy. Efficiency dictates
the use of a two-person team. That's what I want to experiment with and
come up with a reasonable range of times for a half-acre plot. ENTS
should be able to advise others on the amount of labor that is required
to take the kinds of site measurements that we take. At least that is the
predilection of those of us with engineering backgrounds. I never
thought I'd be advocating the use of the old stopwatch. Efficiency in
ENTS tree measuring. Uh, I have a feeling that some of my favorite
trees, right now, are doing the tree equivalent of throwing up.