Pembegul Moradaoglu | ALES Graduate Seminar

Date(s) - 25/05/2021
9:00 am - 10:00 am

Event details:  A graduate exam seminar is a presentation of the student’s final research project for their degree.

This is an ALES PhD Final Exam Seminar by Pembegul Moradaoglu.  This seminar is open to the general public to attend via Zoom:

Thesis Topic: Modelling Tree Height-Diameter Relationship and the Effect of Climate

Seminar Abstract:

Tree size and tree height are two essential quantities to quantify and measure structure and productivity of forest stands. As such, they encourage predictability in changes among tree growth patterns, and hence, are fundamental to developing forest management plans. Tree height and diameter vary within and between species. Monitoring their variations is necessary to understand how forest productivity changes and how forest can be managed accordingly. Moreover, recent climate change may affect tree height and diameter and their relationship, because tree growth is subject to change in climate. This thesis contributes to improving forest management plans and tree height-diameter modelling by analyzing variation in tree diameter and tree height, and climate effect on their relationships.

I first started modeling tree size distribution for a wide range of tree communities and derived a Weibull distribution from stochastic tree recruitment, growth and mortality. I tested the Weibull distribution model using tree size data collected from six continents and Alberta, Canada. I found that the Weibull distribution provided a good description of the curvilinear relationships of the tree size data. I further showed how to use size distribution for predicting growth with the data from a 50-ha long-term forest dynamics plot on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The result showed that variation in recruitment time and growth is sufficient to explain the differentiation in tree size.

Second, I modeled tree size and tree height relationship and their derivative forms. Traditional tree height-diameter equations model tree height for a given size. However, the traditional models are cumulative functions and do not provide informative about incremental rate in relative to tree size. The latter is more informative about tree growth, hence useful for forest management and planning silvicultural practices. Using 57772 individual living trees from 575 permanent sample plots across Alberta boreal forest, I identified models (from an inclusive list of 19 candidate models) that best described tree height-diameter relationship for seven major tree species of Alberta. I then explored the derivatives of the best fitted tree height-DBH models to describe tree height increment in relative to diameter increment and associated the derivatives with life history traits of species. I found that although the cumulative height-diameter relationships all had similar shape, the derivatives of tree height-diameter relationship between early successional (deciduous) species were distinctly different from that of late successional (coniferous) species. This indicates that the derivative of height-diameter relationships is more informative then the cumulative equations in revealing tree growth patterns.

Third, I studied climate effects on tree height-diameter relationships. The need to incorporate the effects of climate into existing tree height-diameter models has become clear, as tree height and diameter growth are inevitably sensitive to climate changes, and consequently are tree height-diameter relationships. I incorporated a climate moisture index (CMI) and maximum temperature (Tmax) into seven most common tree height-DBH models to improve the predictability of traditional height-DBH models and to reveal whether species have specific response to climate change conditions. I discovered that CMI had negative effects on height growth of specific species, where Tmax had significant positive effects on height growth of all species. All climate-based tree height-DBH models increased the predicted ability of the original models. This suggests that climate effects need to be incorporated into models to predict tree growth. Also, the climate-based models showed that tree species would become taller with increasing temperature although their responses to climate moisture index would be different.

The results of my thesis contribute to improving modelling tree diameter and tree height, understanding tree growth patterns by analyzing derivative curves, and increasing predictability of height-DBH models by including climate effects. The models derived and parameterized from this thesis should be useful in guiding sustainable forest management and silvicultural planning.