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Application of a simple soil moisture model for assessing drought effects on the growth of boreal aspen (Populus tremuloides) forests in western Canada
Presented by Dr. E.H. (Ted) HOGG on 14 May 2013 from 11:15 to 11:35
Type: Oral Presentation
Session: Climate Growth Relations II
Track: Climate-growth relationships
Previous research shows that droughts lead to multi-year decreases in the growth of western Canadian aspen forests. We postulated that this is partly a consequence of aspen responding directly to slow variation in the water content of deep soils in this dry region. To address this hypothesis, a soil moisture (SM) model was developed that requires only basic climatic inputs. The model successfully simulated variation in SM at an intensively instrumented aspen stand over a 9-year period. This model was then used in tree-ring analyses of aspen growth responses to climatic variation in similar stands across western Canada. Results showed that aspen growth was significantly related to modelled SM in the current growing season, and indicated that hydrological lags contribute to the delay in aspen growth responses to drought events. Future tree-ring studies may benefit from using modelled SM as an alternative indicator of drought effects on forest productivity.