Canadian Forest Service Publications

Trembling aspen responses to drought and defoliation by forest tent caterpillar and reconstruction of recent outbreaks in Ontario. 2007. Cooke, B.J.; Roland, J. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37(9): 1586-1598.

Year: 2007

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 29008

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

Mark record


We investigated the long-term effects of drought and defoliation by forest tent caterpillars on trembling aspen radial growth in the province of Ontario using a dendroecological approach. Drought, as measured by Hogg's climate moisture index (CMI), was found to have no discernible impact on aspen radial increment in either northeastern or northwestern Ontario during the study period 1930-2003. Forest tent caterpillar outbreaks were strongly decadal in periodicity in both regions and resulted in similar patterns of periodic variation in tree ring-width chronologies, indicating that, in humid environments prone to spatially synchronized tent caterpillar outbreaks, herbivory is the main factor limiting aspen radial growth. We show that the major decadal outbreak cycles of forest tent caterpillar can, by filtering with the computer program OUTBREAK, be reliably reconstructed from raw aspen ring-width chronologies. We determine the filtering parameters that give the most reliable reconstruction fit to observed patterns of outbreaks in each region. We show that the periodic outbreak signal is present even in areas where aerial surveyors frequently failed to detect significant levels of defoliation, and that the outbreak signal necessarily includes minor defoliation episodes that occur in between the major decadal outbreak cycles.