Canadian Forest Service Publications

Mapping the environmental limitations to growth of coastal Douglas-fir stands on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 2007. Coops, N.C.; Coggins, S.B.; Kurz, W.A. Tree Physiology 27: 805-815.

Year: 2007

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26743

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii spp. menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) occurs over a wide range of environmental conditions on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Although ecological zones have been drawn, no formal spatial analysis of environmental limitations on tree growth has been carried out. Such an exercise is desirable to identify areas that may warrant intensive management and to evaluate the impacts of predicted climate change this century.We applied a physiologically based forest growth model, 3-PG (Physiological Principles Predicting Growth), to interpret and map current limitations to Douglas-fir growth across Vancouver Island at 100-m cell resolution. We first calibrated the model to reproduce the regional productivity estimates reported in yield table growth curves. Further analyses indicated that slope exposure is important; southwest slopes of 30o receive 40% more incident radiation than similarly inclined northeast slopes. When combined with other environmental differences associated with aspect, the model predicted 60% more growth on southwest exposures than on northeast exposures. The model simulations support field observations that drought is rare in the wetter zones, but common on the eastern side of Vancouver Island at lower elevations and on more exposed slopes.We illustrate the current limitations on growth caused by suboptimal temperature, high vapor pressure deficits and other factors. The modeling approach complements ecological classifications and offers the potential to identify the most favorable sites for management of other native tree species under current and future climatic conditions.